Mark Cavendish will return to the Tour of Britain for the fifth time in five years to lead the Etixx-QuickStep team. Zdenek Stybar, who is making his debut at the eight-day race, has also been named in the Belgian team’s line-up.
Cavendish has competed at the race every year since 2011 – plus several more in his early days as a professional – when he successfully used it as preparation for the World Championships. The Manxman has taken a total of 10 stage victories at the Tour of Britain and, as ever, will be looking to add to that tally. Cavendish will have to mix his ambitions at the Tour of Britain with his track commitments, as he is due to race at the Dudenhofen GP in Germany this weekend.
Cavendish joins an in-form André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka), who have already been confirmed for the race, in the increasingly strong sprint line up.
"I'm excited to ride the Tour of Britain. It's my home tour and it's always something special to ride in front of your national crowd. It's already my 8th time at the race and year-by-year I can see how cycling is growing in this nation,” said Cavendish.
“We are at the start to try to be successful as we were last year. We have a strong team and we are ready to race. This year the course is extremely difficult. It will be also a good final preparation for the UCI World Championships in Richmond.”
Cavendish was recently named in Great Britain’s long list for the World Championships, a list that also included Tour de France winner Chris Froome.
Former cyclo-cross world champion Stybar is making his debut at the race and is likely to be the team’s main general classification contender. Etixx-QuickStep came close to victory with Michal Kwiatkowski last year but the World Champion is heading to Canada this season in preparation of his title defence. Stybar has been in strong form this season, with a stage win at the Tour de France and two stages of his home Czech Cycling Tour.
"I'm pretty curious about it. My teammates told me that it's a tough race, without a metre of flat road, designed in great scenarios. It will be even more difficult because the teams are formed by only six riders, so it's not easy to control the race,” Stybar said.
“The atmosphere will be great, I'm sure. I have never raced on the road in the United Kingdom, but I remember the great images of the Olympics and the Grand Départ of the Tour de France last year. It will be nice to be part of this race. As for my condition, I think I'm okay and I'm looking forward to participate in the race.”
The remainder of the team is yet to be announced.