Mark Cavendish was left out of Team Dimension Data’s Tour de France squad after team manager Doug Ryder overruled performance director Rolf Aldag, Sky Sports News understands.
Cavendish is one of the most successful riders in the Tour’s history, second only to Eddy Merckx for stage wins, but will miss out for the first time since 2007 after being left out of the eight-man team.
Aldag is responsible for picking the Team Dimension Data line-up for races, but it is understood Aldag intervened and made the decision to leave the Manxman out.
Cavendish has been training at altitude ahead of the Tour and is said to have been feeling fit after his efforts in last season’s Tour were undermined when he contracted the Epstein-Barr virus.
Sky Sports News understands that the handling of Cavendish’s condition, which can cause fatigue, led Team Dimension Data to overhaul their medical staff.
Prior to last year’s Tour, Cavendish was forced to retire hurt in 2017, meaning his last complete effort was in 2016 – when he won four stages.
There are scheduled to be seven sprint stages on this year’s course, meaning Cavendish – a sprint specialist – would have felt confident of adding to his 30 Tour de France stage wins.
He competed in the Tour of Slovenia last month and then finished 22nd at the British National Championships road race on Sunday.
In 2011, Cavendish became the first Briton to win the green jersey at the Tour after finishing with five stage victories.
Team Dimension Data explained the decision in a statement, saying: “Selection for our Tour squad was a highly competitive process and one in which a panel weighed up the options provided to us not only by Mark but indeed all of our riders.
“As you’d expect among a selection panel, there were a number of different preferences of the final squad make up with our team principal, Doug Ryder, making the final decision on it.
“This selection is one the team believes will be best suited to meet the goals set out for the race.”
Edvald Boasson Hagen, Stephen Cummings, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Michael Valgren, Roman Kreuziger, Giacomo Nizzolo, Ben King and Lars Bak will represent Team Dimension Data at the Tour de France, which begins in Brussels on Saturday.