Mark Cavendish (Columbia) will use this week?s Tour de Romandie in Switzerland as his final build-up for the Giro d?Italia.
Cavendish won the opening prologue time trial in Geneva last year before going onto to win two stages in the Giro and is hoping the six-day race will leave him in perfect shape for the start of the Giro in Venice on May 9.
Britain?s Dan Fleeman (Cervelo) and Charly Wegelius (Silence) are also riding, while Sean Yates is a directeur sportif with the Astana team.
Cavendish?s last race was Ghent-Wevelgem on April 8. He had a few days off the bike after an intense and success but was also ill for a few days with a stomach problem. Cavendish has been training hard in Tuscany for the last ten days and the Tour of Romandie will be about him getting back into the rhythm of racing.
?There are no real sprint stages this year?s race and so I?m going to use it as my final build-up for the Giro. If there?s a sprint I?ll go for it for sure but it?s about being right for the Giro,? Cavendish told Cycling Weekly.
?Last year I suffered through Romandie and was a bit tired at the start of the Giro but hopefully I?ll come out of just right this year. I won the prologue but it?s a bit longer this year and it?s not the same course.?
Cavendish uses his speed to blast round short time trial course but will face major competition from Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), who is riding in Switzerland for the first time since winning a gold medal in the Beijing Olympic time trial.
Other contenders for the prologue are Cavendish?s team mates Edvald Boasson Hagen and Tony Martin, Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) and Thomas Dekker and Cadel Evans (Silence).
This year?s route starts in Lausanne and ends in Geneva. The road stages include some climbs, especially on Saturday, but avoid the major Swiss mountains. The opening prologue and then Friday?s 14.8km team time trial are expected to decide the overall standings.
Favourites for overall victory include Cadel Evans (Silence), Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Vladimir Karpets (Katusha) and Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas).
Spain?s Alejandro Valverde is a late addition to the Caisse d?Epargne team. He claims he wants to use his current form but the Tour of Romandie is also the last major race he can ride before his anti-doping hearing in Italy on May 11.
Tuesday 28 April: Prologue Lausanne (3.1 km)
Wednesday 29 April: Montreux ? Fribourg (176.2 km)
Thursday 30 April: La Chaux-de-Fonds (161.5 km)
Friday 1 May: Yverdon-les-Bains TTT (14,.8 km)
Saturday May 2: Estavayer-le-Lac à Sainte-Croix (157.5 km)
Sunday May 3: Aubonne ? Geneva (150.5 km)
Mark Cavendish: Rider Profile
The all-time list of British pro winners
Cavendish ready and waiting for Ghent-Wevelgem
Mark Cavendish: Exclusive interview
Cavendish wins again in De Panne
Cavendish wins Milan-San Remo
Armstrong to ride 2009 Giro
Tuttosport reveals 2009 Giro d'Italia route
Dolce & Gabbana design new Giro jersey
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