Mark Cavendish to lead Omega Pharma-QuickStep team at Tour de France

Omega Pharma-QuickStep squad publishes long list of 13 riders for this year's Tour de France

Mark Cavendish wins Stage 6 of the 2014 Tirreno Adriatico

(Image credit: Graham Watson)

Mark Cavendish will lead Omega Pharma-QuickStep at this year's Tour de France, starting in Yorkshire on Saturday July 5.

The Belgian WorldTour outfit published its long-list of 13 riders, from which the final nine will be selected. From the long list, it looks as though Cavendish will have a full-strength lead-out comprising the likes of Alessandro Petacchi, Mark Renshaw, Gert Steegmans and 2014 Paris-Roubaix champion Niki Terpstra.

Cavendish has made no secret that stage wins at the Tour are his main season objective, in particular the opening stage from Leeds to Harrogate, his mother's home town.

Michal Kwiatkowski will be there to gain experience as a general classification rider. The 24-year-old Pole has enjoyed an impressive season so far with an overall win in the Volta ao Algarve, and victories in Strade Bianche and the Tour de Romandie prologue, among others. He also placed third in both Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Fleche Wallonne.

The final nine-man team will be announced on Monday, June 23, following the conclusion of the Tour de Suisse.

"All 13 names are important," said team sport and development manager Rolf Aldag. "Those guys showed to the team great commitment whether they will be in the final selection of nine or not. They are all ready and fit for the race.

"Everybody knows our main objectives will be the stage wins with Cavendish and a new experience in the Tour with Kwiatkowski to make another improvement, a new step in his career. We will build our team around those two guys to be a competitive and strong team in order to try and reach our goals."

Tom Boonen is listed as a reserve on the list. The former green jersey winner and world champion is currently riding in the Tour de Suisse with Cavendish, where the team's Tony Martin is leading the race overall.

"We appreciate the availability also of a guy like Tom Boonen," said Aldag. "He’s the only one who knows already he will be one of the reserves. He shows again that he is a great professional and he really cares about this team. We know we can count on him if we need him at the very last moment."

Omega Pharma-QuickStep Tour de France long list (as at June 17): Jan Bakelants (Belgium), Tom Boonen (Belgium), Mark Cavendish (Great Britain), Thomas De Gendt (Belgium), Michal Golas (Poland), Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland), Tony Martin (Germany), Alessandro Petacchi (Italy), Mark Renshaw (Australia), Gert Steegmans (Belgium), Niki Terpstra (Netherlands), Matteo Trentin (Italy), Martin Velits (Slovakia).

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