Mark Cavendish assisting team mate Gianni Meersman in French stage race, the Tour de l'Ain

Mark Cavendish made his return to racing on Tuesday after crashing out of the opening stage of the Tour de France suffering from a separated shoulder.

Cavendish completed the opening prologue of the Tour de l’Ain in a highly creditable ninth spot behind stage winner and Omega Pharma-QuickStep team-mate Gianni Meersman.

Cavendish then played lead-out man for Meersman on Wednesday’s road stage, where the Belgian placed third behind stage winner Raymond Kreder (Garmin-Sharp) to maintain his overall lead.

Cavendish had hoped to win the opening stage of the 2014 Tour in Harrogate, Yorkshire, and put himself into the yellow jersey. Those hopes were dashed when he tangled with Simon Gerrans on the run-in to the line and ended up withdrawing from the race.

The Manxman then missed out on riding in the Commonwealth Games, but played the role of directeur sportif during the road race. It is unclear which races Cavendish will now ride for the remainder of the season, but a start in the Vuelta a Espana at the end of August is a possibility.

The UCI 2.1-ranked Tour de l’Ain concludes on Saturday, August 16.