British cyclist Mark Cavendish will take an indefinite break from the sport after being diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus, more commonly known as glandular fever.
The 33-year-old, who has won 30 Tour de France stages, had been “unknowingly training and racing with EBV over recent months”, according to his Dimension Data team.
His enforced rest was announced on Wednesday, with Cavendish saying: “I’ve been advised to take a period of total rest in order to fully recover.”
The virus is an illness associated with fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and sometimes an enlarged spleen.
Cavendish, who is also known as the Manx Missile due to his exceptional sprint finishes, was first diagnosed in April 2017.
He said: “This season I’ve not felt physically myself and despite showing good numbers on the bike I have felt that there’s been something not right.
“Given this and on the back of these medical results, I’m glad to now finally have some clarity as to why I haven’t been able to perform at my optimum level during this time.
“I’m now looking forward to taking the time necessary in order to get back to 100% fitness before then returning to racing again at peak physical condition.”
Cavendish has suffered a number of injuries in recent months, breaking his collar bone while competing in the Tour de France last year and being involved in two crashed in March, forcing him to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games the following month.
The cycling star has won the second highest number of Tour de France stages, only being surpassed by Belgium’s Eddy Merckx.
But this year saw the Manxman being eliminated from the Tour after finishing outside the time limit on stage 11.
Cavendish was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2011.