Cavendish gets the nod for Classic Brugge-De Panne

MILAN ITALY MARCH 16 Mark Cavendish of United Kingdom C celebrates at finish line with Dries Devenyns of Belgium and Team QuickStep Alpha Vinyl R and teammates as race winner during the 103rd MilanoTorino 2022 a 197km one day race from Magenta to Rivoli MilanoTorino on March 16 2022 in Milan Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Mark Cavendish celebrates after winning the recent Milano-Torino (Image credit: Tim de WaeleGetty Images)

Mark Cavendish will lead QuickStep-AlphaVinyl into the Flemish Classics, taking the reins as protected sprinter at the Minerva Classic Brugge-De Panne on Wednesday. 

Fabio Jakobsen was expected to be the Belgian team's sprint card for the cobbled races, and won Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne last month, but will step aside after a surprise call-up for Milan-San Remo at the weekend. 

If Cavendish wins on Wednesday, there could be a question mark over which rider is selected for Sunday's Gent-Wevelgem. 

Cavendish showcased his form by winning Milano-Torino last week but was not considered for Milan-San Remo, telling reporters afterwards that "no-one from the team talked to me about it." 

The Manxman will have his chance to lead the Belgian team into their most important period of the season on home soil. The Classic Brugge-De Panne, held as a one-day race since 2018, heads through windswept north-west Belgium but is pan-flat and liable to culminate in a bunch sprint. 

"De Panne is flat, but by no means an easy race. We have several laps to tackle and we will go through De Moeren, always known for the crosswinds that can bring chaos in the peloton. It remains to be seen if it will happen also on Wednesday, but at the moment this scenario doesn’t look likely," said QuickStep AlphaVinyl director Tom Steels. 

"We are sending to the start a solid and determined team capable of controlling the race, and if it comes down to a bunch sprint, Mark has several guys he can rely on to be up there and go for another good result."

Cavendish will be supported by lead-out man Michael Morkov, who piloted him to victory at Milano-Torino and also played a crucial role in the team's victory at last year's De Panne with Sam Bennett. 

Completing QuickStep-AlphaVinyl's line-up are: Mikkel Honoré, Iljo Keisse, Stijn Steels, Jannik Steimle, and Bert Van Lerberghe. 

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