After missing the World Championships, Mark Cavendish will return to action on Tuesday at the two-day Giro della Toscana, where he and Ryan Gibbons will look for a sprint victory for Dimension Data on the opening day.
Cavendish, who suffered with the Epstein Barr virus earlier in the year, sustained a broken shoulder blade in a crash that ended his Tour de France on stage 4. He returned to racing at the Tour of Britain earlier in September and worked for Edvald Boasson Hagen, his own performances helping him decide he wasn't in good enough shape to take a place in Great Britain's team for the Worlds.
Last weekend he rode a trio of one-day races, abandoning the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen and Primus Classic before finishing 6th at the GP d'Isbergues.
Cavendish bases himself in the Tuscany region of Italy for much of the season, and the Giro della Toscana will be something of a home outing for the team as a whole, with its European base in Lucca. Cavendish will be one of two cards for the team, alongside South African neo-pro Gibbons, on the opening stage in Pontedera, which is expected to culminate in a bunch sprint.
"I'm really looking forward to Giro della Toscana. Many riders in the team live close to this area so it's almost like a home-town race," said Gibbons. "Personally, I'm feeling much better after my crash last week, though I'm not quite sure how I will fare here. Hopefully, I haven't lost too much shape and can play my part."
The sprinters will take a back seat on the second and final stage, which features an 8.8km summit finish that will decide the overall classification. Dimension Data have Igor Anton, Steve Cummings, and Jacques Janse van Rensburg as possible contenders.
The team is rounded out by Bernhard Eisel, Jaco Venter, and Johann van Zyl.
"It will be good to race near our European training base in Lucca," said sporting director Oli Cookson. "We bring a very experienced team to this race. Looking at our lineup, there is a lot of different strength. We will definitely be watched by the other teams".
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