Defending champion Mark Cavendish will miss this year’s British National Road Race Championships having been ruled out with bronchitis.
The Manx Missile, who had hoped to defend his blue and red striped jersey against a high-class field in Abergavenny, has withdrawn as a precautionary measure as he prepares for the Tour de France.
And Cavendish admitted he was disappointed not to be taking to the start line of Sunday’s race, with the 25-time Tour de France stage winner instead due to continue training in Italy.
Cavendish said: “I’m sad because, as current champion, I would really like to defend the title.
“I would have liked to honour the race and this jersey that I wore for all of 2014 so far, which allowed me to represent my country proudly.
“I think it’s wiser, however, to not take any risks and focus on absolute, 100 per cent recovery, and continue to train in function of the Tour de France.
“I talked with the race organisers and they understood my situation perfectly. I wish them well, and also wish good luck to all riders at the race on Sunday trying to fight for this jersey I’ve been so proud to wear.”
Sir Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), who also starts as a favourite in the men’s time trial today (Thursday June 26) leads the men’s elite line-up for Sunday’s race.
Cavendish, meanwhile, will now focus on his bid to win the yellow jersey on stage one of the Tour de France, which rolls out of Leeds on Saturday July 5.