Mark Cavendish will lead HTC-Highroad in the Tour of Britain, which starts in the Scottish Borders this coming Sunday. The sprinter, who pulled out of the Vuelta earlier this month, has been granted permission, as required under UCI rules, by the organisers of that race UCI to enter his home tour, which overlaps with the Spanish race by one day.
While the Tour de France green jersey winner’s presence in the race will give British fans another opportunity to see him on home roads – the Manxman won Olympic test event, the London-Surrey Cycle Classic, last month – it will also give Cavendish some valuable preparation for the World Championship road race in Copenhagen in a little under three weeks’ time.
Last week, British Cycling announced its long list of riders for Copenhagen, from which the final team of eight riders in the men’s road race will be selected, which is dominated by names from Team Sky, the outfit Cavendish has been most strongly linked to ride for next season.
Those riders are Steve Cummings , Alex Dowsett , Chris Froome , Jeremy Hunt, Pete Kennaugh, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift, Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins, plus Dan Lloyd and David Millar from Garmin-Cervelo.
In the Tour of Britain, the 26-year-old Cavendish will be aiming to complete a hat-trick for his team, which is being dissolved at the end of this year, and which produced the overall winner in 2009 in the shape of Edvald Boasson Hagen, and last year through Michael Albasini.
The HTC-Highroad line up also featuring key members of the leadout train that has served Cavendish so well at HTC, including Rabobank-bound Mark Renshaw, and Bernie Eisel whose future plans are yet to be confirmed, although rumours are that he will go wherever Cavendish goes.
Lars Bak, Alex Rasmussen and Irish champion Matt Brammeier round out the team, while Brian Holm will act as directeur sportif. Matt Goss and Gatis Smukulis have been named as reserves.
“As a team we have worked hard over the past fortnight to ensure that Mark Cavendish rides The Tour of Britain,” said Tour of Britain Race Director Mick Bennett.
“We are very pleased that Mark has been given permission by the organisers of the Vuelta a Espana to start The Tour of Britain, and will be able to race in front of home crowds for potentially the final time before the 2012 London Olympics.
“Mark’s addition to the start list will ensure that the sprints are hotly contested. I am sure the spectacle of Mark, Thor Hushovd, Ben Swift and others going head-to-head at stage finishes will draw huge crowds to the roadside once more.”
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.