Mark Cavendish says he is 'on the other side' of depression
Last Updated: 05/04/20 8:21pm
Mark Cavendish says he is on the road to recovery after battling with depression and illness.
The 34-year-old has been locked inside his home gym before, facing his own personal fight against depression and the Epstein-Barr virus in the past two years.
But this time it is different and Cavendish is in a positive mood, saying: “I’m actually winning.
"The unknown of when you’re going back racing, I had that for two years, being on the indoor trainer, in the gym every day for two years trying to get back.
“OK, it was interspersed with some racing, but now I’ve been doing that and feeling good.
“I’m a racer, we’re all racers. We want to go out and race, that’s obvious. But it is what it is. There’s worse problems in the world than a few athletes not being able to compete right now.”
In 2016, Cavendish claimed the most recent of his 30 Tour de France stage wins before leaving the race a week early to travel to Rio, where he took Olympic silver in the omnium race.
After his 2017 Tour de France campaign ended in a stage five crash, there followed a long battle with the Epstein-Barr virus, prolonged by an initial failure to diagnose it.
It was a period that changed Cavendish’s perspective.
“It’s not just been my physical health which has been dealt a blow over the last couple of years,” he said. “I’ve battled quite hard with depression during this time. I think I’ve come out of that. And it’s nice to have come out of that, and to look for the positives.”
Cavendish was diagnosed with clinical depression in August 2018. “I was dark,” he said. “And I’m on the other side, thank you. Well, as much as I can be.”
Cavendish currently rides for Bahrain McLaren team which is headed by his old coach Rod Ellingworth.
“I’m loving it, absolutely loving it,” Cavendish said. “OK, we’re not going anywhere to race right now but there’s a plan to the season, not just for me but for everybody.”
Ellingworth has some understanding of what Cavendish has dealt with physically, having been “knocked for six” when he suffered from Epstein-Barr himself back in 1995-96.
The former British Cycling and Team Sky coach knew the team was taking on something of a project when they signed Cavendish on an initial one-year deal this winter. “His form is not like 2016 but he’s getting there,” Ellingworth said. “That season was phenomenal. If that was 10 out of 10, he’s somewhere like seven at the minute."
“He came to us one or two out of 10. That’s physical, mental, the passion for it. So he’s progressing really well but he just wants to race.”
For now that is all on hold during the lockdown. Cavendish’s training is limited to gym sessions, short rides around his home, and the turbo trainer.
The immediate future is uncertain, with the season on hold and Bahrain-McLaren team looking to defer a percentage of wages during the shutdown. But after the dark days of his battle with illness, this time Cavendish cannot feel envy for what he might be missing.