Sprinters test their Tour de France speed in the Dutch stage race
The organisers of next week's Ster ZLM Toer have announced that Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) and Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) will all ride the five-day Dutch race in the build-up to the Tour de France.
Cavendish opted to ride the ZLM Toer after finishing the Giro d'Italia last year, and won the overall classification last year despite not winning a stage. He then went onto win three stages at the Tour de France.
He has followed the same plan this year after winning five stages and the red points jersey in Italy. He fine-tuned his new leadout train in Italy and will have similar support next week with Andrew Fenn, Gert Steegmans, Matteo Trentin, Dries Devenyns, Serge Pauwels, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Michal Golas listed in the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) have opted to ride the Tour of Switzerland, but Cavendish will be challenged by Andre Greipel and Marcel Kittle in the sprints. All three are expected to clash again at the Tour de France.
Kittle won Scheldeprijs in the spring and showed is form with a win at the recent Tour de Picardie, while Greipel showed his form with two stage wins at the Tour of Belgium.
The entry list includes eight WorldTour teams, including BMC, Saxo-Tinkoff and Garmin-Sharp. The Blanco team is also looking for success on home roads with Theo Bos and Graeme Brown taking on the sprinters, with Lars Boom as probable team leader.
The powerful Dutchman is the favourite for the opening eight-kilometre prologue time trial. He finished second overall to Cavendish last year.
The other stages end in Breda, Buchten, La Gileppe in the Belgian Ardennes, and in Boxtel.
Ster ZLM Toer stages:
Wednesday June 12: Stage 1: Goes 8km
Thursday June 13: Stage 2: Breda - Breda 175.7km
Friday June 14: Stage 3: Buchten - Buchten 188.3km
Saturday June 15: Stage 4 Verviers Hotel - La Gileppe 186km
Sunday June 16: Stage 5: Gerwen - Boxtel 176.2km