HTC-Highroad has confirmed that Mark Cavendish will be part of its selection for the Tour of Britain, which starts in Peebles, Scotland, on September 11. The news reported by British newspaper The Telegraph ends speculation on whether Cavendish would take part in the eight-day event following his withdrawal from the Vuelta a España almost two weeks ago.
Indeed, the rider needed special permission from the UCI to do so. The world governing body's rules state that if a rider pulls out of one of a race, he cannot enter another for the duration of the original event - and the Vuelta and Tour of Britain overlap by one day. However, rules also allow exceptions for major tours.
It will be the first time since 2007 that Cavendish will compete in his home race, although his HTC-Highroad team has claimed the overall title twice with Edvald Boasson Hagen and Michael Albasini.
"We're delighted to have Mark return to the Tour, as to a certain extent we feel he has grown up with the Tour of Britain, thanks to impressive performances in 2005 and 2006, and his wins in 2007," race director Mick Bennett said.
"It's a tremendous boost for the race to have Britain's most successful Tour de France cyclist competing in the Tour of Britain. Thanks to his success Mark has transcended cycling to become a household name, so we're sure that many casual fans will be excited about this opportunity to see him racing in Britain."
Bennett believes the 2011 Tour will field its strongest line-up since the reintroduction of the race to the cycling calendar in 2004. "I think Mark is the last 'surprise' inclusion. The big names, though, will be out there: Cavendish, Thor Hushovd, Jens Voigt, David Millar, Geraint Thomas, Ben Swift, Lars Bak and so on. It is certainly our best ever line-up.
"The prospect of Cavendish, Swift and Hushovd going toe-to-toe in the sprints is one that, I'm sure, spectators will be relishing. For the majority of fans in the UK this is their chance to see Cavendish racing on home roads."
Cavendish will use the race as his last preparation for the world championships road race in Copenhagen, which will take place just one week after the Tour of Britain finishes in London on September 18. "To have the likes of Cavendish and Hushovd wanting to race in the Tour is the highest praise we as organisers can receive," Bennett continued. "The ultimate accolade for us would be for Mark, Thor or someone else to go on from the Tour of Britain to win the world title in Copenhagen."
The full HTC-Highroad roster at the Tour of Britain will be: Mark Cavendish, Lars Bak, Matt Brammeier, Bernhard Eisel, Alex Rasmussen and Mark Renshaw.