Mark Cavendish is to wear the rainbow jersey he won in Denmark last weekend for the first time at Paris-Tours on 9 October, and aims to become the first reigning world champion to win the late-season classic. To do so, he’ll have to beat off a strong field on a 230.5-kilometre parcours that keeps the race’s signature finish on the Avenue de Grammont, including world number one-ranked Philippe Gilbert, winner here in 2008 and 2009.
It had been thought that due to a new tramway being installed in Tours, one of cycling’s most famous arrivées would disappear from the race altogether, but it has been retained, albeit with a finishing straight of just 600 metres instead of the 3 kilometres that have featured in the past.
Last year’s winner, Oscar Freire, is among those who have tried to win Paris-Tours as world champion but failed. The Rabobank rider, who looks likely to retire at the end of the season, is scheduled to race, as is the man who preceded Cavendish in the rainbow jersey, Thor Hushovd, who moves from Garmin-Cervelo to BMC Racing at the end of the season.
Cavendish will be supported by the man he beat by half a wheel to take the world title on Sunday, Australia’s Matt Goss, who provided the leadout duties during last year’s Vuelta as the Manxman took the points jersey.
Wherever Cavendish ends up next season, his battles with his soon-to-be ex-team mate Goss, bound for GreenEdge, promise to provide some gripping racing next year. John Degenkolb and Bernie Eisel also figure in the HTC-Highroad line-up.
Whoever wins the race this year can perhaps look forward to being at the front of the queue when it comes to getting a bit of punditry work once they retire if past experience is anything to go by.
Previous winners include Sean Kelly, regularly found commentating alongside David Harmon for British Eurosport, plus Jacky Durand and Richard Virenque, who provide the expert analysis for Eurosport’s French operation.
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.