By Nigel Wynn
Mark Cavendish heads up a strong Omega Pharma-QuickStep line-up for this year's Tour de France.
As expected, the Manx Missile will be vying for the green jersey of points classification winner - the accolade that he won in 2011, but lost out to Peter Sagan in last year's race whilst with Sky.
Where Sky's interests were more in Bradley Wiggins' favour on his way to winning the Tour overall last year, Omega Pharma appears to have selected a team to rally behind Cavendish this year. And it's now a proven Grand Tour stage-winning set-up after Cavendish bagged five stage victories at the Giro d'Italia in May.
That's not to say that the team lacks any other options for stage wins - time trial world champion Tony Martin is present, and will be the man to beat in the stages against the clock. Also present is triple Tour stage winner Sylvain Chavanel.
The nine-man line-up includes riders from eight different nations, and will undoubtedly be one of the most multinational in the race.
During the Giro, Cavendish chalked up his 100th victory since turning professional in 2007. Cavendish has already said that he wants to win the 2013 Tour's opening stage in Corsica, and be the first rider to wear the coveted yellow jersey of race leader.
"The team will be built mainly around Mark Cavendish. Cav is there to try and win stages, and of course one of the big goals of Mark is to go for the yellow jersey on the first day," said Omega Pharma-QuickStep manager Rolf Aldag. "This is something he missed for the moment - he has worn yellow before, but never after the first stage of the Tour.
"Mark will be able to count on the same leadout of the Giro d'Italia. They are already tested in race situations and will be ready again. Steegmans will be the last man, and Matteo Trentin will be the second to last man. But, all the team will be committed with Mark when the stage will fit his characteristics.
"Tony Martin will be there to ride to the 'Flamme Rouge' on the flat stages. He will bring Matteo, Gert and Cav into the best position possible in the final kilometre."
Omega Pharma-QuickStep: 2013 Tour de France roster
Mark Cavendish (GBr)
Sylvain Chavanel (Fra)
Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol)
Tony Martin (Ger)
Jerome Pineau (Fra)
Gert Steegmans (Bel)
Niki Terpstra (Ned)
Matteo Trentin (Ita)
Peter Velits (Svk)
Tour de France 2013 team tracker
Tour de France 2013 coverage index
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