Cavendish to make Team Sky debut at Tour of Qatar

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World road race champion Mark Cavendish will make his Sky debut at the Tour of Qatar after the British team announced their squads for February.

Bernhard Eisel, who joined the team from HTC-Highroad alongside Cavendish, will also race in Sky colours for the first time as part of an eight-man squad for the six-stage race, which begins on February 5.

Davide Appollonio, Michael Barry, Juan Antonio Flecha, Jeremy Hunt, Christian Knees and Ian Stannard complete the line-up.

Aussie duo Mathew Hayman and Chris Sutton, both in action at the Tour Down Under, will then replace Flecha and Knees for the Tour of Oman between February 14-19.

Vuelta a Espana runner-up Chris Froome will start his season with Challenge Majorca, a series of five one-day races on the Spanish island.

The rest of Team Sky’s new recruits - Sergio Henao, Richie Porte, Kanstantsin Siutsou and neo-pros Salvatore Puccio and Luke Rowe, who is building towards the Ardennes Classics – will also race in Majorca, with Alex Dowsett, Thomas Lofkvist, Lars-Petter Nordhaug and Xabier Zandio also involved.

Bradley Wiggins enjoyed a superb 2011, winning the prestigious Criterium du Dauphine and finishing third at the Vuelta on his return from a broken collarbone. The Sky leader then claimed silver in the World Championship time trial before playing a key part in Cavendish’s road race victory.

Wiggins, who told RCUK he has enjoyed an excellent winter’s training, will look to carry that form in 2012 and starts the new campaign at the Volta ao Algarve (February 15-19), with two-time Tour de France stage winner Edvald Boasson Hagen also making his first appearance of the season.

British trio Peter Kennaugh, Ben Swift and Geraint Thomas will feature in the  Giro di Sardegna (February 21-25), while the Classics season will then begin with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on February 25, where Flecha will look to repeat his 2010 glory, supported by Barry, Boasson Hagen, Eisel, Hunt, Knees and Stannard.

The month then draws to a close with Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on February 26, with Chris Sutton returning as defending champion in a line-up that also includes Britons Cavendish, Dowsett, Hunt and Stannard.

See Team Sky’s full line-ups for February here.

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