Newly-crowned road race world champion Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) will give his new rainbow jersey its first competitive airing in the 2011 edition of Paris-Tours on Sunday October 9.
The Manxman is set to line up with Worlds time trial silver medallist and fellow Brit Bradley Wiggins (Sky) in the 230.5km race from Voves to Tours.
Known as a sprinter’s classics due to its largely flat profile, Cavendish can’t be ruled out of a win. HTC-Highroad hasn’t held back with its team line-up, with Worlds road race runner-up Matt Goss, John Degenkolb and Bernhard Eisel all down to ride in what will be one of the squad’s last major events.
Race organiser ASO has unveiled an unsurprisingly sprinter – and attacker – heavy provisional start list that features 2008 and 2009 winner Philippe Gibert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky), Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre), Daniele Bennati, Jens Voigt (both Leopard-Trek) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank).
The run-in to the finish is slightly changed this year, with a shorter 600 metre straight before the line on the Avenue de Grammont.
If Cavendish does win, he’ll be the first Briton to win the race since it started in 1896 – and break a lengthy tradition of reigning world champions failing to take the victory.
Last year, Spaniard Freire beat Italian Angelo Furlan (Lampre) and Belgian Gert Steegmans (RadioShack) in a sprint to the line.
Cycling Weekly will host video highlights of Paris-Tours on www.cyclingweekly.co.uk soon after the race finishes