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Sprinter channels his Isle of Man roots on racing motorbike

Mark Cavendish hasn't had the best of years – his solitary stage win in July's Tour de France was his lowest return since his debut in the race in 2007 – but a couple of pictures posted to Facebook this week show that the self-styled "fastest man on two wheels" has just got faster.

The bike he's riding has an engine, but this isn't anything to do with so-called mechanical doping – Cavendish, known to be a fan of fast cars, is on a motorbike as befits a native of the island in the Irish Sea that is home to the Isle of Man TT.

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The blue skies – not to mention Table Mountain in the background – are a bit of a giveaway that Cavendish was in rather sunnier climes at the Killarney Circuit in Cape Town, South Africa, where he has been on a training camp with his new team.

When I grow up, I want to Cal Crutchlow... Got my knee down & everything!

Posted by Mark Cavendish on Tuesday, 1 December 2015

The ride was arranged by former elite cyclist Jonny Towers, now managing director of trade distributor Moto Direct's Cycling Division; the company is official clothing partner to the Isle of Man CycleFest, which will coincide next year with the island hosting a round of the Tour Series.

Thanks to Jonny Towers for getting me on my first race bike yesterday. Absolutely loved it!

Posted by Mark Cavendish on Tuesday, 1 December 2015

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Afterwards, Towers tweeted: "Turns out the @MarkCavendish can ride a Moto pretty fast too ... First time on a track and only 3 secs off lap record."

Cavendish has ridden part of the TT course before, on a road bike for a downhill challenge in this video produced for Jaguar in 2013.

In September fellow Manxman and former Team Sky colleague Peter Kennaugh set a new course record for cycling the full TT course, breaking the one set 22 years earlier by Chris Boardman.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.