Mark Cavendish makes a long-awaited return to the Tour of Britain on Sunday, determined to make his mark on the event after a four-year

LONDON (AFP) — Mark Cavendish makes a long-awaited return to the Tour of Britain here Sunday, determined to make his mark on the event after a four-year absence.

The 26-year-old is one of the biggest names in British cycling, having won 20 stages of the Tour de France as well as this year’s green jersey, but last competed in the Tour of Britain in 2007.

The UCI granted him a special dispensation to return to the race this year following his decision to withdraw from the Vuelta a España.

Ordinarily under UCI rules a rider who withdraws from one race is unable to compete in another if the first event is ongoing — the Tour of Britain overlaps with its Spanish counterpart by one day.

HTC team manager Brian Holm said the Isle of Man sprinter had made the right decision by abandoning the Vuelta.

“He did the right thing pulling out — he had stomach trouble, felt pretty empty and there was a risk of making it worse,” he said. “He got healthy again, he did some big rides in Spain and we’ve been adding some quality this week.”

Race director Mick Bennett said Cavendish’s appearance could be his last on British soil before next year’s Olympics.

“We are very pleased that Mark has been given permission by the organizers of the Vuelta a España to start the Tour of Britain and will be able to race in front of home crowds for potentially the final time before the 2012 London Olympics,” Bennett said.

The Tour of Britain begins at Peebles in the Scottish Borders on Sunday before finishing 1,250km later at Westminster on September 18.