Cavendish needs high-level race wins to make Tour squad, says Ellingworth
Mark Cavendish returning to the Tour de France depends on him winning high-level races between now and July, Bahrain-McLaren manager Rod Ellingworth has suggested.
Cavendish has 30 stage wins to his name on the Tour but has not won a race in more than two years after a succession of injuries and disruptions.
He was controversially left out of Dimension Data's Tour squad last year but recently spoke to Eurosport of his excitement for what lies ahead with his new team as he sets his sights on Eddie Mercx's Tour stage win record, which he is just four short of.
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The 34-year-old looks to be fit and healthy again after struggles with Epstein Barr virus, but while coach Ellingworth spoke of his confidence in his new man, he suggested Cavendish's place on the Tour is far from a done deal.
It is not yet known whether Bahrain's focus will be on the general classification, or whether they will use a sprinter and one or two lead-out men.
Cavendish made his season debut at last week's Saudi Tour, helping fellow sprinter Phil Bauhaus to two stage wins and the overall title.
"For Mark, if he’s winning and performing well, why would we not think about going on that journey and trying to be the greatest stage winner in Tour de France history?," he continued. "That dream is still there, he knows it’ll be a hard challenge. If he’s winning at WorldTour level, why wouldn’t we take him?
"For Mark individually, physically he’s in the right place. He’s got some work to do still, but he’s certainly on track. Then there’s also the confidence around going for that sprint and putting yourself on the line. That’s not easy."
In an exclusive interview with Eurosport, the Englishman spoke of his joy at being back cycling again and confidence in the success that lies ahead for his new team.
" Whether it's me or a team-mate crosses the line first, I'm just looking forward to celebrating again. That's what I'm looking forward to with this team. I know it's going to be a successful year and it makes me happy again. It makes me incredibly happy."