Manx Missile Mark Cavendish will return to cycling’s biggest stage this weekend as he has been selected to ride for Deceuninck-Quick-Step in this year’s Tour De France.
A winner of 30 Le Tour stages, Cav has taken a spot that was expected to go to teammate Sam Bennett who has had to pull out with injury.
The injury to Bennett, combined with Cav’s four wins at the Tour of Turkey and a win in Belgium has seen the most decorated sprinter in the history of the race return to Le Tour for the first time in three years.
In a statement released by Quick-Step, Cav said: ‘I am delighted to be going back to the Tour de France with Deceuninck – Quick-Step. Obviously, the circumstances with Sam could be better – he had a special Tour last year and I am sad for him not being able to defend his green jersey. But at the same time, I am excited to be going back to a race that I have such an affinity with and where I have so much history. It is the biggest bike race in the world, and I am going to do all I can to grab this opportunity with both hands.’
Celebrating the news Manx Missile tweeted: ‘No. Words. Can. Describe. How. I. Feel.’
Team director Tom Steels added: ‘Our team is a balanced one. Julian came well out of the Tour de Suisse and the opening weekend suits him, so we’ll support him in his quest for a stage victory. Mark returns to the Tour, and it’s great to have someone with his history and experience on the team. He will have a superb lead-out with Ballerini and Mørkøv, and the plan is to take it day by day and see how things go. Kasper will also be one to watch, as there are a couple of stages where he can go in the breakaway, without mentioning the two individual time trials, where he can do something nice. Tim is one of the best helpers in the peloton, while Mattia and Dries will help Julian in the mountains and on the uphill finishes. We are confident and hopeful for a good three weeks.’
This year’s Tour de France starts on Saturday and runs through to July 18. Of the early stages, Monday’s Lorient to Pontivy seems to present the best chance for Cav to add to his 30 career wins on Le Tour, but just seeing the Missile back on the grandest stage shows a remarkable turnaround for the man who some had written off last year.