Mark Cavendish has confirmed that his spring race programme will include both Milan-San Remo and Ghent-Wevelgem before he takes a break in mid-April after targeting a third victory at the Scheldeprijs race in Belgium
Omega Pharma-Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere told Cyclingnews on Monday that Cavendish would ride Milan-San Remo after race organiser RCS confirmed that this year's race would not include the Pompeiana climb due to lands slides and safety issues. The team has now fleshed out his race programme, adding Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Driedaagse van De Panne in Belgium.
"I'm very happy to be riding in Milano-Sanremo, on the same route where I watched my heroes race and win when I was a kid," Cavendish said in a press release from the team.
"In fact, the edition I won in 2009 featured the climb on Le Manie. It will be fun and stimulating to ride on this route, which is making this race the only Classics monument for the sprinters. I'm also very happy to race in Belgium. I've never won Gent-Wevelgem. The route for this race has gone back to how it used to be, too. Driedaagse van De Panne and Scheldeprijs will complete my 'Flemish' schedule, during which I can also count on a squad that's as strong on this type of route as Omega Pharma – QuickStep."
Cavendish will share team leadership with Tom Boonen in some of the spring races but could have a shot at a second victory in Milan-San Remo and a first victory at Ghent-Wevelgem if the racing stays together and is decided in a sprint finish. Cavendish had a quiet start to the 2014 season but won recently a stage at the Volta ao Algarve.
The doubts about the Milan-San Remo route has affected several riders programmes, forcing the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team to hold off finalising Cavendish's programme. Cavendish will face several sprinters and classics specialists in Milan-San Remo. However the Giant-Shimano team has confirmed to Cyclingnews that Marcel Kittel will not ride Milan-San Remo with the Dutch squad naming John Degenkolb as their protected sprinter for the race.
"Uncertainty about the route of the San Remo left Mark's program open until just a few days ago," Omega Pharma-Quick Step Sport and Development Manager Rolf Aldag explained.
"Therefore, after Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico races, Mark will be in the starting lineup for the Milano-San Remo. Without the Pompeiana, the route is back to being suitable to the skills of athletes like Mark. After San Remo Mark will participate in Gent-Wevelgem. The Flemish classic also underwent a slight variation to the route that could favor the arrival in the final sprint. Mark's classics campaign will then pass through Driedaagse van De Panne and will finish with Scheldeprijs, a race which Mark already won three times."