Mark Cavendish to make track cycling return at International Belgian Open in Ghent
Mark Cavendish will make his return to track cycling at this weekend's International Belgian Open.
Last Updated: 04/09/13 1:36pm
The 28-year-old is set to ride in the scratch race and also team up with Owain Doull in the Madison at the event, which takes place on Friday and Saturday in Ghent.
It will be the first time Cavendish has represented Britain on the boards since the 2009 Track Cycling World Championships in Poland and is the first step on a journey that could end with him riding in the velodrome at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Cavendish's love for track cycling was reignited at last summer's London Games and he later revealed an interest in being part of the four-man team pursuit squad in Brazil.
By riding in Belgium, he is hoping to earn qualifying points for the UCI World Cup in Manchester in November, where, in turn, he will aim to become eligible for next year's world championships in Colombia.
The 25-time Tour de France stage-winner has been training on the track in the build-up to the International Belgian Open under the guidance of British Cycling endurance coach Paul Manning.
"We had a conversation about the potential of him [Cavendish] having a play on the track this winter," Manning told britishcycling.org.uk
"The UCI are making us pre-qualify for world cups. Ghent is the last one before the cut-off date for him to be eligible, so by necessity, he is going to go and race his bike.
"He has been on the track, he has trained on the track. You might not have seen him pin on a number for a few years in a world cup environment, but he has trained on the track quite regularly.
"It is difficult for road riders to create a space - the demands of the road are so great it is hard to find space, but Mark has utilised this bit of a break he has to do that."
Manning believes 20-year-old Doull will be the ideal partner for Cavendish in the Madison.
"Owain is a good, versatile bike rider," he added. "I think they could get on well together. It will be exciting for Owain to chat with someone of Mark's experience. It is win-win for the squad having Mark around."
Joanna Rowsell will also make her return to racing in Ghent, just a month after breaking her collarbone in a crash at the RideLondon Grand Prix. Jon Dibben, Steven Burke and Ross Edgar complete Britain's six-strong team.