Mark Cavendish to lead Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 2013 Tour de France

Mark Cavendish will lead Omega Pharma-QuickStep at the 2013 Tour de France.

The former world road race champion will be the sole focus of the Belgian superteam’s efforts in the absence of joint leader, Tom Boonen.

Boonen, considered by many the finest one day rider of his generation, has suffered a season plagued by injury and while he showed signs of a return to form at last week’s Tour de Suisse, has not been selected for La Grande Boucle.

Friends reunited: Mark Cavendish’s sprint train for the Giro d’Italia have been selected for the Tour de France

Rolf Aldag, the team’s sports and development manager, said the hundredth edition of cycling’s biggest race would provide new opportunites for the Manxman.

“Cav is there to try and win stages, and of course one of the big goals of Mark is to go for the yellow jersey on the first day. This is something he missed for the moment — he has worn yellow before, but never after the first stage of the Tour.”

Cavendish will be reunited with his lead out train from the Giro d’italia, with Gert Steegmans as his final lead out man, and Matteo Trentin second to last.

The Manx Missile will also be able to rely on the services of world time trial champion, Tony Martin, Aldag said, who will be deployed in the ‘flamme rouge’ role where appropriate. “He will bring Matteo, Gert and Cav into the best position possible in the final kilometer.”

Martin will also lead the team in the 25km stage four team time trial in Nice, and will be heavy favourite for the race of truth on stages 11 and 17.

“The first ITT will be a little more appropriate for his skills. The second will be difficult, but for sure he will still try his best,” said Aldag.

French national time trial champion, Sylvian Chavanel, a veteran of 12 Tours de France has agin been selected to race in his home nation’s biggest race. ‘Chava’ rode a committed spring Classics campaign, and won a stage of Paris-Nice in March.

Cavendish, Martin, and OPQS won the team time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico in March and will seek to do so in the July

Michal Kwiatkowski, the 22-year-old Polish rider, has been given his big change after impressing the team in the early season by finishing second overall at the Volta ao Algarve, and winning the best young rider classification at Tirreno-Adriatico en route to fourth overall.

Aldag said: “We decided to bring him because it’s time to get this kind of experience, to try and wear the white jersey even for a limited time.

“It will be a kind of dream for him and of course a great achievement for the team. We will try to make it real, but without stress or pressure.”

Dutch road race champion, Niki Terpstra, French rider, Jerome Pineau, and the 23-year-old Italian, Matteo Trentin, make up the squad.

The hundredth edition of the Tour de France starts in Corsica on Saturday June 29.

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