Mark Cavendish returns to action this week at Nokere Koerse and Bredene Koksijde in Belgium after taking an impressive second place at his last race.
Cavendish (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) showed a glimpse of his old self when he took second place behind a flying Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) at GP Monseré and the British star will be hoping to continue that form into the two tricky Belgian races this week.
Nokere Koerse takes place on Wednesday (March 17), raced over 195km in Flanders, followed by Bredene Koksijde, also in Flanders, on Friday (March 19).
Deceuninck - Quick-Step sports director, Rik Van Slycke said: "We have some solid line-ups for this week’s Belgian races, consisting of riders who can control the race and guys who can be in contention and fight for a good result.
"The roads will be narrow and we should have some strong winds, which means we need to be attentive at all times, because there’s a fair chance the peloton will split long before the finish.
"Throw in the hills and cobblestone stretches and you get all the ingredients of a proper classic, which means we can be in for some full gas racing, with little or no moment of respite."
Both races favour sprinters with Cees Bol (Team DSM), Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) and Pascal Akcermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) on the list of past winners at the events, but they do take in tricky terrain, much like any Belgian race.
Cavendish looks to be going into the race as co-leader with a very solid lead-out around the man from the Isle of Man. The rest of the squad is made up of Shane Archbold, Josef Cerny, Ian Garrison, Iljo Keisse, Stijn Steels and Jannik Steimle, with Florian Sénéchal in there as the other leader of the team.
Nokere Koerse is best known for its sprint finish up the Nokereberg cobbled climb in Nokere after taking in the climb multiple times over tricky circuits around the town - the race winner needs to be perfectly placed but also have an impressive amount of power to take victory.
It won't be simple for Cavendish as he will be coming up against on-form sprinters such as Merlier as well as Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) and attacking riders like Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe).
Cavendish is down to race yet another Belgian semi-classic after these two in the form of Scheldeprijs on April 7, a race he has won on three occasions.
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