Mark Cavendish is to make a return to track cycling this week in a bid to keep alive his hopes of competing in the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
The Manxman will compete in the International Belgian Open in Ghent today (Friday) and Saturday, a competition which carries qualifying points for the UCI World Cup which begins in Manchester at the beginning of November.
The move came about after the International Cycling Union (UCI) changed a rule which meant riders are now responsible for earning qualifying points for World Cup events as well as the UCI World Championship – the next of which will take place in Florence, Italy between September 22-29 - and Olympic events.
By competing in Belgium, Cav will then be eligible for the three rounds of the World Cup which would subsequently earn qualification for the 2014 UCI Track Cycling World Championships taking place in February 22-March 2 in the Cali Velodrome in Columbia.
Joining the Manx Missile in the track team is Jon Dibben, Owain Doull, Steven Burke, Ross Edgar and Joanna Rowsell.
Cav will compete in the scratch race and then team up with Doull in the Madison.
After the Belgian Open, the Manxman is expected to return to road action a week later when he takes to the startline for this year’s edition of the Tour of Britain.
The Omega-Pharma Quick-Step rider has, to date, recorded no fewer than seven stage victories in the Tour, including three in last year’s edition when he also wore the yellow leader’s jersey for a day.
The eight-stage event kicks off on Sunday, September 15 with a 201-kilometre ride from Peebles in the Scottish borders to Drumlanrig Castle. The race then heads south before finishing in London on September 22.
l Fellow Manxie Peter Kennaugh and several of his Team Sky colleagues failed to finish the 248km GP Ouest-France one-day race on Sunday.