Mark Cavendish will mix his winter training with six-day racing as he prepares for the 2015 season, riding the 74th Lotto Z6sdaagse Flanders-Ghent event with Belgian track star and Omega Pharma-QuickStep teammate Iljo Keisse, organisers have confirmed.
The Gent Six is arguably the biggest event on the winter six-day calendar, attracting thousands of Belgian and British fans to the six nights of high-speed racing. This year's event will be held between November 18-23, with Felice Gimondi named as the official starter in recognition of the Italian rider's career.
Cavendish and Keisse will be the favourites for the Gent Six day, but race organisers revealed they will be challenged by current Madison world champions David Muntaner and Albert Torres of Spain. The names of the other pairings will be announced closer to the event but Jasper Buyst, Kenny De Ketele, Gijs Van Hoecke, Moreno De Pauw, Jonas Rick Aert, Otto Vergaerde and Leif Lampater are all expected to ride.
The Gent Six will be a way for Cavendish to work on his form after his crash in the sprint at the end of stage one at the Tour de France in Harrogate. The high-speed crash left him with a dislocated AC-joint that needed surgery. He recovered to race again, winning two stages at the Tour du Poitou-Charentes and was competitive in the sprints at the Tour of Britain but revealed his shoulder would take several months to fully heal.
Cavendish is an accomplished track rider and won the world Madison title in 2005 and 2008 with Rob Hayles and Bradley Wiggins. He won the gold medal in the Scratch Race at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, riding for the Isle of Man. He rode the Gent Six in 2007 with Bradley Wiggins, but last year Omega Pharma-QuickStep team manager Patrick Lefevere blocked Cavendish from riding the Gent Six fearing a crash could damage his road racing season. The Belgian manager seems to accept that this year's Gent Six can help Cavendish be back to his best for the 2015 season.