Mark Cavendish will return to racing with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl at the Tour of Poland, which gets underway on Saturday 30 July.
Set to lead the Belgian squad across the seven-stage race, Cavendish will look to put a turbulent month behind him.
Firstly, he became the British national road race champion at the end of June, but just days later Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl didn't select him for their Tour de France squad. Instead, they opted to have Fabio Jakobsen as their sprinter over Cavendish, who could've taken the outright record number of stage wins at the Grand Tour.
Then, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl general manager Patrick Lefevere said Cavendish won't stay beyond the end of his contract, which expires at the end of 2022.
Lefevere said: "He will not stay, I think not, it is not possible. It hurts my heart, but every now and then the time comes to say thank you for everything he has done for the team and I hope vice versa.
"I know that he wants to do two more years in the bunch... but he's not part of our project."
However, the fire still burns brightly within the 36-year-old, and in the intervening period since he has expressed his desire to return to the Tour de France in search of a record 35th stage win, even if it seems that the Manx rider will need to find a new team to do so.
For now, though, Cavendish will race at the Tour of Poland, at which he has failed to win a stage in two previous editions. The first two stages this year offer his best opportunity for victory, with undulating parcours concluding with flat terrains for likely bunch sprints.
Cavendish will have the opportunity to wear his British champion stripes for the first time in a WorldTour race since 2014. He did wear the jersey in the Surhuisterveen Criterium on Tuesday night, but he hasn't yet donned the colours in a road race.
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl are placing their belief in him in Poland, with Rémi Cavagna, Josef Černý, Mauro Schmid, Zdeněk Štybar, Bert Van Lerberghe and Mauri Vansevenant all lining up alongside him for the seven-day stage race.
Sports director Geert Van Bondt said: “It’s a beautiful Tour of Poland with chances for every type of rider. The first two stages will be sprint stages, where we have Mark ready to fight for a good result, with Bert, Zdeněk and Josef there to support him.
"The last stage should be again one for the sprinters, but it will all depend on how the GC teams will race it."
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Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.
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