LONDON -- Sprint star Mark Cavendish is skipping this weekend's British national championships so he can clear up a bout of bronchitis before the start of the Tour de France.
Cavendish, the reigning champion, said in a statement issued by his Omega Pharma-Quick-Step team Wednesday that he regretted not being able to defend his jersey Sunday in Wales.
The Tour de France begins July 5 in Leeds, the first of three stages taking place in Britain.
Cavendish enters this year's tour with 25 career stage wins, tied for third-most with Andre Leducq. The former world champion needs four more wins to surpass Bernard Hinault for second-most behind Eddy Merckx, who holds the record with 34 stage wins.
Cavendish won two stages in last year's Tour de France.