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Mark Cavendish back in saddle with future still unknown

Cavendish races for the first time with his Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl teammates since the Tour de Pologne.

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Mark Cavendish returns to racing this week for the first time since the Commonwealth Games with his future still unconfirmed.

The British national champion races for the first time with his Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl teammates since the Tour de Pologne in early August.

Joining him will be Fabio Jakobsen at the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen (September 16), Primus Classic (September 17) and Gooikse Pijl (September 18).

“Normally, Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen and Gooikse Pijl are for the fast men, but with rain predicted on both days, the outcome of these races could be influenced by the weather,” sport director Wilfried Peeters said. “We have Fabio for these two events that come with a parcours suiting him, but also Mark, so we start with a lot of motivation and confidence.”

Dries Devenyns, Ilan Van Wilder and Louis Vervaeke, all three who helped Remco Evenepoel take triumph at La Vuelta a España, together with Iljo Keisse, Bert Van Lerberghe and neo-pro Stan Van Tricht, will also be at the start.

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The return to racing for Cavendish comes as the Manxman has yet to reveal his plans for 2023.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, which signed Tim Merlier for next season, will be counting on Jakobsen to lead its sprint efforts across 2023, and they’re cutting Cavendish loose.

Several teams have been linked to Cavendish, but as the relegation game plays out among the WorldTour, some teams might have to wait to see if a deal is possible.

Cavendish stated that he’d like to race at least one more season and have a chance to break the Eddy Merckx stage win record at the Tour de France, which he tied in 2021 with 34 stage wins.

The 37-year-old Cavendish has won five times in 2022, including a stage at the Giro d’Italia as well as the British national title in June.