Mark Cavendish today confirmed that he will be riding the National Championships road race (June 26) in Newcastle, but sprung a surprise by announcing that he will also ride the Leazes Criterium 48 hours earlier.
Cav competed in last year's nationals in Pendle, Lancashire, but the combined dominance of Team Sky and a rolling circuit ruled the HTC-Highroad rider out of contention for the coveted white, blue and red jersey.
His entry into that race is no surprise, as it forms part of his final preparations for the Tour de France, but his decision to ride the hour-long criterium on the Friday (June 24) comes as a shock.
Open to UCI licence holders, as well as elites and first category riders, the race is held on a twisty circuit around Leazes Park, which lies next to Newcastle United's St. James' Park stadium.
Endura Racing's Jack Bauer took the victory last year, outsprinting Matt Cronshaw and Jonny McEvoy.
Cavendish during the 2010 National Championships road race
Whether or not any Team Sky riders will compete in the crit is currently unknown, but confirmation who will be competing in the National Championships race is expected tomorrow.
Geraint Thomas is expected to be on the start line as he seeks to defend his title, as is the current women's National Champion Emma Pooley.
New Zealand road champion takes Newcastle criterium
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