Mark Cavendish will reunite with trusted lead out man Mark Renshaw at the Dubai Tour and can count on the support of Alessandro Petacchi and a strong team as he clashes with Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) in the three expected sprints at the inaugural Dubai Tour.
Cavendish opted for a quiet season debut at the Tour de San Luis but looks lean and appears keen to take his first victory of 2014.
Mark Renshaw contested the sprints at the Santos Tour Down Under and then travelled to Dubai to team up with Cavendish. They have not raced together since 2011 but practiced their lead out at a December training camp. Omega Pharma-Quick Step also has Tony Martin, Martin Velits and strong domestiques Nikolas Maes, Wout Poels and Julien Vermote to control the racing before Petacchi and Renshaw lead out Cavendish.
Cavendish rightly shares team leadership responsibilities with Martin, who is the favourite for the opening time trial and possibly the overall victory.
"It's the first time those two guys have ridden together. We've obviously got Tony Martin, the world time trial champion here too and the race starts with a time trial and hopefully Omega Pharma Quick-Step will get off to a good start," Cavendish told Cyclingnews in the pre-race press conference.
"The three stages should end in sprints after that. We'll be targeting all the stages here and the overall. It's the first time we've ridden together as a group but we've got a strong team. We're motivated.”
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Warm weather early season racing
Cavendish won the 2013 Tour of Qatar, taking four consecutive stage victories. This year he will ride the Dubai Tour and then the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal, with Tom Boonen leading Omega Pharma-Quick Step in Qatar. After spending much of the winter training in Britain, he is happy to enjoy the warmth of Dubai.
"I like it here. You know you're going to get good weather, you know you're not going to be stuck on the turbo trainer at home and it's nice to bring cycling to new countries," he said.
"I travelled home well from Argentina and travelled well here. It should be good. The team is strong, we'll see what happens."