Mark Cavendish’s chances of participating in the Tour de France this year have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, admitted Bahrain-McLaren team director Rod Ellingworth.
Cavendish hopes to have the opportunity to add to his record of 30 Tour stage wins if the race continues to its postponed start date of August 29.
But the 35-year-old, who joined former coach Ellingworth in Bahrain-McLaren for a year after two seasons of illness and injury, has had little chance of proving his form and fitness with an outstanding race since the middle of the season. March.
Rod Ellingworth is in his first year as director of the Bahrain-McLaren team (Steven Paston / PA)
“He doesn’t have an automatic selection for the Tour and he doesn’t want one,” Ellingworth told the PA news agency. “He doesn’t want it handed over to him.” But we agreed that if he won races, that would be enough to participate in the Tour.
“Unfortunately, that is changing and with so little racing ahead, it reduces his chances of being able to prove that he has returned to a decent level. “
Discussions are taking place this week on riders who may target which races on the revised UCI calendar, without a final decision.
Ellingworth is keen to aim for the yellow jersey during the Tour, but said focus should not mean there was no place for Cavendish.
“Technically he is one of the best sprinters in the world, and if he is in good shape, he has repeatedly proven that he can do it with or without a starter train,” he said.
“Mark brings a lot of value to the team, only in terms of his frame of mind and his goal setting.”
Responding to the interview, Cavendish said he was no different from any other driver by having no guarantees in his place.
“Personally, I would always like to go to @LeTour, or any race, only if I feel I can add value to the team, or if I think I have the best chance of success for a team… ”, he wrote on Twitter.
“With a layoff of 5 months of racing, each runner is in the same boat with a lack of races to show form.
“I am very fortunate with @BahrainMcLaren to be part of a team that will look at things logically and put the best team on the starting line. “
Planning the season is fraught with pitfalls, with none of the races on the calendar guaranteed.
Ellingworth hopes to see his team return to racing at Vuelta Burgos in late July, but organizers have yet to confirm that the Spanish event will take place.
“At the moment, everything is a bit tart,” he said. “It could be that only the (Criterium du) Dauphine and the Tour continue, but who knows? “
The ambitious UCI calendar brings together more than 100 days of WorldTour events in just over three months, as well as many other lower-level races, Ellingworth warning that he will push teams to their limits – or – of the.
“If everything goes ahead, at some point we will have to pay a fine because we will need 30 runners to cover all the races and we only have 29, so we cannot physically do it”, did he declare. .
“But also, if we are limited with the number of employees we can have during a race, the drivers get less care and attention, which in a Grand Tour is potentially a health problem. “
The challenges ahead of Ellingworth may be about to get worse. The team has already had to carry out large-scale salary deferrals, and this week the McLaren Group announced that it would cut 1,200 jobs in all departments due to the economic downturn.
Bahrain-McLaren was part of the teams linked to a decision by Chris Froome if he leaves the Ineos team (Martin Rickett / PA)
“We are literally waiting to hear how it affects the team,” he said. “A lot is uncertain, but I don’t hear anything super negative like the team could end up or anything. When we get a chance to really sit down and talk, we will. “
This economic situation did not prevent Bahrain-McLaren from being linked to a decision by Chris Froome earlier this month.
The 35-year contract with Team Ineos expires this winter, and it has been suggested that he may even make a rare mid-season move before this year’s Tour due to leadership battles within Ineos.
“I spoke to Chris but like all British guys, I talk to them,” said Ellingworth. “The subject (of his future) was discussed but there was no question of a mid-season transfer. If he had this conversation, it was not with us.
“But we had the conversation that he is free and that he is looking for a team. For me, if Chris wants to discuss the future, why wouldn’t you do it?
“But although I work for another team now, I hope they still consider me as someone who can give a bit of honest and friendly advice. “