Mark Cavendish will not defend his British Road Race title on Sunday as he continues his recovery from bronchitis.

The Ongar star has taken the decision as a precautionary measure ahead of the Tour de France, which will pass close to his Essex home during Stage Three from Cambridge to London on Monday, July 7.

The star sprinter contracted the illness towards the end of the Tour of Switzerland and will continue with training in Italy ahead of the start of ‘Le Tour’ in Leeds.

"I'm sad because, as current champion, I would really like to defend the title," Cavendish told his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team’s website. "I would have liked to honor the race and this jersey that I wore for all of 2014 so far, which allowed me to represent my country proudly. I think it's wiser, however, to not take any risks and focus on absolute, 100 per cent recovery, and continue to train in function of the Tour de France.

“I talked with the race organisers and they understood my situation perfectly. I wish them well, and also wish good luck to all riders at the race on Sunday trying to fight for this jersey I've been so proud to wear."