Mark Cavendish joins a top-class start list for the 2016 Eneco Tour as preparations for the World Championships hot up
Cavendish has been keeping busy over the summer, winning four stages of the Tour de France in July, claiming the silver medal in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games omnium and riding in support of Tour of Britain overall winner Steve Cummings last week.
The seven-day WorldTour race is being used by several top-class sprinters and Rio road race hopefuls to hone their form ahead of the Worlds in Doha, Qatar, over October 9-16.
Cavendish will line up against omnium gold medallist Elia Viviani (Team Sky), Olympic road race champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), former world champion Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) and current world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff).
The Eneco Tour is often viewed as one of the lesser WorldTour races, but this year it benefits from two factors: the race was shifted from its usual August slot to September to accommodate the Olympics; and the Worlds have been moved from their usual September slot to October to escape high temperatures in Qatar.
The date move mean that the Eneco Tour is perfectly positioned for riders wishing to stay in shape ahead of the Worlds, and it’s attracted a star-studded selection of riders so far.
As the Eneco Tour includes both a team time trial and an individual time trial, there will also be a strong selection of TT specialists present – including Dutch favourite Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin).
Cavendish is likely to have a Great Britain team built around him at the Worlds as he attempts for a second world road race title on a favourably flat course. Cavendish was crowned road race world champion in 2011.
Eneco Tour 2016 stages
Stage one, Mon Sept 19, Bolsward (Ned) to Bolsward (Ned), 184km
Stage two, Tue Sept 20, Breda (Ned) to Breda (Ned), 9.6km ITT
Stage three, Wed Sept 21, Blankenberge (Bel) to Ardooie (Bel), 182.3km
Stage four, Thu Sept 22, Aalter (Bel) to St-Pieters-Leeuw (Bel), 201.4km
Stage five, Fri Sept 23, Sittard-Geleen (Ned) to Sittard-Geleen (Ned), 20.9km TTT
Stage six, Sat Sept 24, Riemst (Bel) to Lanaken (Bel), 185.2km
Stage seven, Sun Sept 25, Bornem (Bel) to Geraardsbergen (Bel), 197.8km