Mark Cavendish is riding his first race since the Tour de France today as he begins his build-up to the Vuelta a España and the world road race championships in Australia.
Cavendish is riding the Tre Valli Varesine race in northern Italy along with most of the HTC-Columbia riders who will also ride the Vuelta. These include Matt Goss, Bernard Eisel, Hayden Roulston and Martin Velits. It is Cavendish's first race in Italy since Milan-San Remo in March.
The Tre Valli Varesine is the first race of the so-called 'Trittico Lombardo', a group of three one-day races held in northern Italy. The series continues with the Coppa Agostoni on Wednesday and the Coppa Bernocchi on Thursday. Cavendish will miss the Coppa Agostoni but will ride the flatter Coppa Bernocchi that often ends in a sprint.
The Tre Valli Varesine is a testing hilly race and Cavendish is not expected to challenge for victory but will be looking to test his legs, three weeks after winning the last stage on the Champs Elysees in Paris on July 25.
Cavendish's sprint rival and recent winner of the Vattenfall Cyclassics race Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) is also riding the Tre Valli Varesine after a late change to his race programme.
Also on the start list are Ivan Basso, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo), 2009 winner Mauro Santambrogio (BMC), recent Tour of Poland winner Dan Martin (Garmin-Transitions), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini) and Italian national champion Giovanni Visconti (ISD-Neri).
The race starts in the Campione d'Italia enclave on Lake Lugano and finishes in Varese.
There will be a full report and a photo gallery here on Cyclingnews later today.