Mark Cavendish’s hopes of competing at this year’s Tour de France have suffered a blow due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bahrain-McLaren team principal Rod Ellingworth has admitted.
The Manx Missile is hoping to get an opportunity to add to his tally of 30 Tour stage victories if the race goes ahead on its rescheduled start date of August 29.
But the 35-year-old, who joined the team on a one-year deal after two seasons dogged by illness and injury, has had little chance to prove his form and fitness with racing on hold since mid-March.
“He doesn’t have automatic selection for the Tour and he doesn’t want it,” Ellingworth said.
“Mark brings a lot of value to the team, just in terms of his mindset and his goal-setting.
“He doesn’t want it just handed to him. But we made an agreement that if he was winning races that would be enough to go to the Tour.
The UCI’s ambitious calendar packs in over 100 days of WorldTour events into a little over three months, plus many more lower level races, with Ellingworth warning it will stretch teams to their limits – or beyond.
The team has already had to make large-scale wage deferrals, and this week the McLaren Group announced it would be cutting 1,200 jobs across departments due to the economic slow down.
“A lot of things are uncertain, but I’m not hearing anything super negative like the team might be finishing or whatever. When we get chance to really sit down and talk we will do,” he said.
That economic picture did not prevent Bahrain-McLaren being linked with a move for four-times TDF winner Chris Froome earlier this month.
The 35-year-old’s contract with Team Ineos runs out this winter, and there were suggestions he could even make a rare mid-season move before this year’s Tour due to leadership battles within Ineos.
“I’ve spoken to Chris but as with all the British lads, I do speak to them,” Ellingworth said.
“The subject (of his future) did come up but there was no talk of a mid-season transfer. If he has had that conversation it wasn’t with us.”