Mark Cavendish says he has no “desire to stop” racing, three days after appearing to suggest he was set to retire.
The Manxman, 35, has struggled for form in recent seasons, when he has been affected by the Epstein-Barr virus.
But he says rumours Wednesday’s one-day Scheldeprijs race would be cancelled contributed to his tearful interview at the end of Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem race.
“I don’t want to stop. I love this sport,” he said.
“There were rumours at the start of the race that the rest of the races would be cancelled,” he told Belgian broadcaster Sporza.
“The government in Belgium had a meeting on Monday about restrictions over coronavirus. It suddenly dawned on me that I don’t have next year sorted yet and that it could be the last race of the season and potentially my career.
“I wear my heart on my sleeve and especially with racing here in Belgium – here in Scheldeprijs [in 2007] was my first win as a professional. I was looking forward to this race and I was enjoying racing in Belgium. It’s pure racing like when I was a kid again. I don’t have a desire to stop.”
Cavendish, who has won Scheldeprijs three times, is considered one of the greatest riders in road cycling, having won 30 stages at the Tour de France, but as yet he has no contract to ride next year.
The GB rider, who currently races for Bahrain-McLaren, also won the 2011 World Road Race Championships, 15 stages of the Giro d’Italia and the Milan-San Remo ‘monument’ one-day race in 2009.
And despite not having won since the third stage of the Dubai Tour in February 2018, Cavendish says he has plenty left to offer.
“That’s relative – 80% of riders don’t win a race in their career. I’m fortunate that I’m looked at that if I don’t win it’s a problem.
“Of course, I want to win but unfortunately, it’s how it is. If I’m second it’s looked on as bad whereas if another rider is second then it’s possibly good.”