Mark Cavendish is relishing recommencing his battle with German sprinter Marcel Kittel at the Tour of Britain, but admits he’s still not in peak condition.
The Manxman required shoulder surgery after crashing in the closing metres of the first stage of the Tour de France in Harrogate – a sprint won by Kittel
Cavendish returned to action in last month’s Tour de l’Ain, finishing ninth in the opening prologue, but missed out on Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s team for the Vuelta a Espana.
So the 29-year-old teams up with leadout man Mark Renshaw in OPQS’s lineup for the Tour of Britain, which departs Liverpool on Sunday – a race in which he won three stages in 2013.
“Realistically you have to say that I am not in my best condition after the last few months I've had,” Cavendish said on tourofbritain.co.uk.
“I'm racing this week because this is my national Tour, Britain's big race, and I always want to support it when I can.
“It's always a treat racing on home soil in front of big British crowds. I'm just going to enjoy myself and see what the week brings.”
Cavendish joins fellow Brit Bradley Wiggins on the startline, who is looking to defend his title from 2013.
The 2012 Tour de France winner is joined by Ben Swift in the Team Sky lineup, another threat to Cavendish in the sprint stages.
“It's a really strong field at the Tour this year, the best ever,” Cavendish continued.
“It's going to make for really intense racing but I don't think it will change the nature of the race.
“Looking at the route it seems to be bookended by the two sure-fire sprints but after that almost anything can happen and that keeps a lot of riders interested.”