Mark Cavendish has added the Tour of California to his race schedule as he searches for more sprint opportunities.
The British star is continuing his return to form after a long illness and a rocky start to 2019.
After pulling out of Paris-Nice on the second stage, Cavendish didn’t race for three weeks before returning at the Tour of Turkey where he took his first podium place in 10 months.
He will now head to America to hunt for stage success, in a race that offers plenty of opportunities for the sprinters.
The 33-year-old was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus in April 2017 after suffering from unexplained fatigue.
He returned to racing in early 2018, but struggled after crashing in both the Abu Dhabi Tour and Milan-San Remo.
After pulling out of the European Championships road race in August, he announced an indefinite rest period to continue his recovery from Epstein-Barr.
Cavendish later said he believes he did more damage because the illness was mismanaged.
In 2019 he opened his season at the Vuelta a San Juan followed by the UAE Tour but didn’t take any podium places.
He then started Paris-Nice in March but was forced to pull out after two days of chaotic crosswind racing.
After three weeks away from racing, the former world champion returned at the Tour of Turkey where he took third on stage three, his first podium in almost a year.
He then lined up at the Tour de Yorkshire, his best result an eighth place on stage one.
Cavendish will now race in California as he builds towards the Tour de France.
The Tour of California will be a tough race for the sprinters, with a characteristically strong field.
Experienced sprinters Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Cavendish will take on young prospects Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) in the fast finishes.
The race starts on Sunday (May 12) and runs over seven stages until May 18.