Mark Cavendish was simply happy to be back racing at the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina last week. The pleasure of pinning on a number again and being in the peloton was a timely reminder of why he loves racing, after months spent slowly recovering from a second flare-up of the Epstein-Barr virus. Yet, despite being on a gradual comeback trajectory, Cavendish could not resist going for victory on the final stage of the Vuelta a San Juan on Sunday. Only a slow puncture and a hectic fight for Peter Sagan’s wheel stopped him fighting for a podium spot and he eased up in the final metres to finish 12th behind stage winner Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe). Cavendish makes it clear results are not important for the first three months of 2019 but his return to racing naturally inspires him.ADVERTISEMENT "It’s nice to gradually get back into it, and enjoy it, more than anything. I went from being nervous to enjoying it. We had a good go there in the last sprint and my numbers were really good, despite having a soft tyre," he said. "In the last few days, I’ve realised why I ride a bike, because I love it [racing] like everyone. Once you enjoy it, it makes you appreciate it." Cavendish suffered in the near 40C temperatures of the opening stages of the Vuelta a San Juan but has felt better stage after stage. He had avoided speaking to the media on the race, preferring to avoid the spotlight and gradually find his racing legs and his confidence. 'Only human'
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