Date: Tuesday, 27 June 2017
The Manxman has battled glandular fever this spring but rode the British national road race championships on Sunday and has been named in the final nine-rider squad that will travel to Dusseldorf for the Grand Depart.
Also selected are double British national champion Stephen Cummings, who has recovered from a fractured collarbone and scapula, road captain Bernhard Eisel, lead out man Mark Renshaw, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Jaco Venter, Scott Thwaites and Serge Pauwels.
There is no place for the newly crowned Rwanda and Eritrea national time trial champions Adrien Niyonshuti and Mekseb Debesay but South African national champion Janse van Rensburg will fly the flag for Africa, alongside compatriot Venter. Thwaites and Venter both make their Tour de France debut, while 36-year-old Eisel rides his 12th.
Dimension Data said it would "once again target specific stages with individual riders during the 2017 edition of the race. Riding from the front, searching for breakaway's and looking to wear a leader's jersey will also bring further awareness to our #BicyclesChangeLives campaign. We are confident these nine riders will make an impact that matters on the African continent over the next three weeks."
It is the African team's third appearance at the Tour de France. Cummings won a stage for the team on Mandela Day in 2015 and took another stage in 2016. Cavendish won the opening stage in Cherbourg and so pulled on the first yellow jersey of the race. He also went on to win three other stages, taking his career total to 30 and edging him ever closer to Eddy Merckx's record of 34 victories.
Cavendish may struggle to be competitive in the highly contested sprint finishes expected in the first week of the Tour de France but can never be written off. He is determined to honour the Tour de France with his presence and see what he can do after only a few weeks of training.
"As has been widely reported, it's been a difficult few months for me on the back of the illness that set me back earlier on in the season. Despite this setback and my lack of race time, I've worked incredibly hard both to ensure I could firstly recover from the illness as well as then aiming to build my fitness up as much as possible in order to start the Tour," Cavendish said when the Dimension Data team was confirmed.
"If I am being totally honest, had this not been the Tour de France,we may have collectively taken a different approach with regards to my inclusion but I feel that I owe it to myself, the team, our sponsors and most importantly to the Tour itself given its history and everything that it stands for - as well as the emotional attachment I have for it - to give it my best and to put everything I have into trying to help the team.
"In addition, I also feel a great sense of pride to be supporting Qhubeka, and our Bicycles Change Lives campaign, and am keen to raise as much awareness as possible for what is such an incredible cause at the Tour."
Team manager Doug Ryder said: "This team was built on a dream and to be in our 3rd Tour de France is so special as we chase more dreams with every single rider that will represent this team and what it stands for on July 1st.
"Our two debutants, Jaco and Scott, will have their eyes wide open as they experience the enormousness of The Tour de France and what a privilege to do that with the incredible experience of the rest of the team."