Mark Cavendish is set to make his return to racing at the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey having fully recovered from his complex fractured collarbone sustained at the Tour de France.
Postponed from its typical April slot on the calendar to October due to the major earthquake that hit the country, the 58th edition of Tour of Turkey takes place from October 8 to 15.
In 2021, the Manxman used the Tour of Turkey as part of his powerful comeback which culminated in four stage wins at the Tour de France. Hoping that history will repeat itself, in a somewhat modified version, Cavendish announced that he will return to the peloton next year, signing a new deal with Astana Qazaqstan, with the aim of setting a record-breaking 35th Tour de France stage win.
But first, Cavendish will look to add more victories at the Tour of Turkey, a race where he has more stage wins than any other rider.
His chance will come early on 135km stage 1 from Alanya to Antalya, but Cavendish will have to contend with Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck). The Belgian has already notched 15 victories this season, the latest at the Elfstedenrace after tough racing in the wind of Friesland, three days ago.
The last time the two riders battled each other was on stage 7 at the Tour de France where Philipsen took the win ahead of Cavendish who held on for second place despite a mechanical problem. The next day, Cavendish crashed out while Philipsen went on to win a total of four stages and the green jersey.
The sprinters may have two more chances after the opening day, the next being on the 165.3km stage 4 from Fethiye to Marmaris and then the final 130.5km stage from İstanbul to Sultanahmet.
The general classification is likely to be decided by the extra difficult 104.1km stage 3 starting in Fethiye which culminates with the ascent of the steep and winding road to Babadağ. The 18.9km final hors categorie climb to 1,937 metres high has an average slope of 10.8% and ramps of 16% in the final kilometres.
The stage should be a perfect launchpad for Jay Vine and his UAE Team Emirates to seal their lead in the UCI Team Rankings. As of September 29, the team had an advantage of 395 points on Jumbo-Visma, who are not racing in Turkey.
Stage 3 could also provide the opportunity for the Australian to take the advantage on the overall battle, after claiming the runner-up placings two years in a row, finishing down by 20 seconds in 2022 and by one second in 2021. The 1,231km hilly route Tour of Turkey also presents many other chances for the climbers, including stage 6 which has another mountain top finish.
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