Mark Cavendish calls on track speed for Dubai Tour defence

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Mark Cavendish calls on track speed for Dubai Tour defence

Manx Missile lines up for Dimension Data in race he won overall last year

Mark Cavendish hopes to turn track speed into sprinting success at the Dubai Tour in a bid to replicate the overall victory he enjoyed last year.

The Manx Missile will start his first stage race for Dimension Data on the Emirate, having made his debut in the African team’s colours at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on Sunday.

The 2.HC-classified race, now in its third year, rolls out on Wednesday (February 3) and kicks off three weeks of races in the desert, with the Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman to follow.

Mark Cavendish will bid for more success at the Dubai Tour after his overall win in 2015 (pic: RCS Sport)

Cavendish – who will wear dossard number one after bagging two stage wins and the blue jersey in 2015 – will be led out by Bernie Eisel and Mark Renshaw, and believes his track form, which included competing at the UCI Track World Cup in Hong Kong, has shown he has the sprinting speed he desires.

“I’ve come back with not much road racing under my belt, but I know from the track that my sprint is good,” he said ahead of the race. “I’m here racing for Dimension Data with a very strong team on the road.

“I’ve raced in the Dubai Tour the last two years and I’ve enjoyed it, especially with winning it overall last year.”

As in 2015, the four-day race boasts three sprinter-friendly stages and an uphill finish at Hatta Dam on stage three.

Stages two and four are pan-flat, while a solitary hill climb on stage one is unlikely to deny the fast men either.

It means Cavendish is among the favourites alongside his chief rival and the man who has replaced him at Etixx-QuickStep, Marcel Kittel.

Marcel Kittel will feature among Cavendish’s chief rivals for the race (pic: RCS Sport)

Kittel, a three-time stage winner in the inaugural race in 2014, is keen for a fresh start after an injury-hit final season with Giant-Alpecin in 2015.

“For me, it feels good to start a new season with a new team, Etixx-Quick Step,” the German said.

“I’ve already experienced a happy time at training camps and during the whole preparation for the new year.

“Here at the Dubai Tour, I want to show my motivation, and get the confirmation that the pre-season work pays off. As a team, we’re here with a lot of motivation.”

Italian duo Elia Viviani (Team Sky) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) will also feature among the contenders, while Cavendish is far from the only Brit in action either.

Team Wiggins and ONE Pro Cycling have also been invited to the race, while Alex Dowsett (Movistar) and Team Sky duo Andy Fenn and Ben Swift will fly the British flag among the WorldTour teams.

Several Brits will be racing on the Emirate, including Sir Bradley Wiggins and his eponymous team (pic: RCS Sport)

And Bradley Wiggins is relishing the opportunity of racing with his eponymous team – though he admitted his own aim is purely conditioning for the track.

“Don’t expect too much from me,” the 2012 Tour de France champion said. “Unlike everyone else, I’m not hoping to achieve anything this week.

“The Dubai Tour is one of the four road races I’ll be doing this year. Just being here with my team pleases me, it’s nice to be racing with those young guys.

“If I can be next to them in sprint finishes, if I can contribute to their experience in a learning curve along with Team Sky and the other big teams, it’ll be great. Some of them are just 19 – Team Wiggins is moving along [but] my goal is definitely more of nurturing for this week.”

Tour of Britain podium finisher Owain Doull, Mark Christian, Jonathan Dibben, Liam Holohan, Chris Latham, Dan Patten and Andy Tennant will also be in action for Team Wiggins.

ONE Pro Cycling, meanwhile, will hope to propel new signing Matt Goss to sprint success, with Yanto Barker, Chris Opie and Tour of Britain King of the Mountains Pete Williams among his supporting cast.

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