Mark Cavendish will join Chris Froome on the start-line of the Tour de Yorkshire next week as he returns to the race for a second straight year.
The 33-year-old Manxman has been named in Team Dimension Data’s six-man squad for the four-day race, which starts in Doncaster on Thursday.
While Froome will focus on the general classification in Team Sky’s new guise of Team Ineos, Cavendish will hope to battle the likes of Katusha-Alpecin’s Marcel Kittel and Dan McLay – who will race for Great Britain – in the anticipated sprint finishes on the opening three stages.
Cavendish, who has 30 Tour de France stage wins to his name, is without a victory in any race since last February after a long battle with the Epstein-Barr virus, but took encouragement from a third place on stage three of the Tour of Turkey last week.
With his focus firmly on proving his fitness for the Tour de France in July, where Cavendish is hoping to edge closer to Eddy Merckx’s all-time record of 34 stage wins, he will be racing on some familiar roads.
Cavendish’s mother hails from Harrogate, which features on stage two from Barnsley to Bedale as riders tackle the circuit which will form the finish of the world championships in September.
“I’m really excited to heading back to the Tour de Yorkshire along with my Dimension Data for Qhubeka team-mates to race in one of the most beautiful places in the world,” Cavendish said.
“I really enjoyed the tough but beautiful parcours last year as I rode the race for the first time, and I look forward to seeing what’s in store for us in the 2019 edition.
“Over and above the racing though, it always blows my mind to see the incredible support of the fans. With some of my family in Yorkshire, it makes it so special and I can’t wait to see them all again.”
Cavendish suffered through last year’s Tour de Yorkshire, unable to contest the sprints and withdrawing on the brutal climbs of the fourth stage from Halifax to Leeds, unaware at that time he was suffering from Epstein-Barr.
Organisers have also announced that world time trial champion Annemiek Van Vleuten and British track star Elinor Barker will compete in the women’s race on Friday and Saturday.
They will take their places in a field which also includes Britain’s former world champion Lizzie Deignan.