By Jonny Long
After his four comeback stage victories at the recent Tour of Turkey, Mark Cavendish returns to European racing this weekend in Belgium as he looks to continue his return to winning ways.
Saturday's second edition of the GP Vermarc will see Cavendish and the peloton complete 10 laps of a 15km-long circuit in Rotselaar, located in the Flemish region of Belgium.
Cavendish's Deceuninck - Quick-Step outfit also contains last year's winner, Florian Sénéchal, as well as Alvaro Hodeg, Stijn Steels and Bert van Lerberghe.
Lotto-Soudal are the only other WorldTour outfit on the start line, boasting Tim Wellens, while Alpecin-Fenix arrive with the likes of Jonas Rickaert, Julien Vermote and British rider Alexander Richardson.
A number of cyclocross stars will also be present, Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal's Eli Iserbyt and Michael Vanthourenhout, as well as Toon Aerts, whose Baloise Trek Lions will also feature 18-year-old Thibau Nys, making his road racing debut.
While Cavendish broke his winless duck in Turkey, the next step will be taking the top step of a podium in Europe. Deceuninck - Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere revealed in his latest Het Nieuwsblad column that the sprinter has paid for a 10-day training camp in Athens out of his own pocket as he looks to achieve even more in his first season back with the Belgian squad.
"I hear that he's achieving even better values than in Turkey," Lefevere said of Cavendish, before adding that he's not in any rush to go out and buy new sprinting talent despite Sam Bennett's intent to leave the team and return to Bora-Hansgrohe at the end of the season.
"I am still working on my budget for the coming years and it will be higher than now. But for the time being, I have not yet made a proposal to any rider from another team," Lefevere said.
"Bennett has informed me by phone that he is leaving the team, but I am not going to look for a new sprinter in a hurry. This week I talked to Fabio Jakobsen, who I expect to find his best level again.
"For the time being, I will focus on the riders I already have in the team. I don't see much better riding around."
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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