What is likely to be one of pro cycling’s big rivalries in 2011 will kick off at the earliest possible opportunity with the news that Mark Cavendish and André Greipel will be going head to head in the Santos Tour Down Under, which starts two months today in Adelaide.
Greipel’s move to Omega Pharma-Lotto means that for the first time, fans will have the opportunity of seeing him race against his former HTC-Columbia team-mate.
Meanwhile, confirmation that Garmin-Transitions’ Tyler Farrar will also be taking part in the week-long, sprinter friendly race will add to the prospect of some hard-fought stage finishes.
Cavendish confirmed yesterday that he planned to take part for the first time in what has become established as the curtain-raiser to the pro cycling calendar.
Quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Manx Missile said: "It's great that I'll be starting my season at the Santos Tour Down Under.
"I have been to Australia six or seven times and I love going there.
"After spending time again there recently at World Championships, I'm eager to get back there for some more racing."
The relationship between the two HTC-Columbia sprinters broke down last spring as Greipel criticised the team selecting Cavendish instead of him for Milan-Sanremo despite poor early season form as he struggled to overcome illness.
Cavendish, who had won the race 12 months earlier, responded by saying there was no chance of Greipel winning La Classicissima, and the rivalry continued as both staked their claims to lead the team in the Tour de France.
However, with the German claiming just one stage win in the Giro d’Italia, it was Cavendish who spearheaded the team’s campaign in cycling’s biggest race, putting injury and patchy form behind him to claim five stage wins.
Cavendish went on to lead the team in the Vuelta a Espana, in which he won the points classification that Greipel had clinched 12 months earlier, while the German took part in the Tour of Britain, in which he won three stages.
Both riders maintained during 2010 that they were the fastest man on the HTC-Columbia team. Finding out which one was correct promises to be one of next year’s big stories in the peloton.
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.