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Mark Cavendish to compete in Tour Down Under

Mark Cavendish
Cavendish will open his 2011 racing season in Australia

Mark Cavendish will compete for the first time in Australia's Tour Down Under race in January 2011.

The Isle of Man sprint star will race for his HTC Highroad team in the event in South Australia from 16-23 January.

Cavendish, 25, will face American pair Lance Armstrong and Tyler Farrar, plus former team-mate Andre Greipel of Germany in the 2011 season-opener.

"I love going to Australia and I'm eager to get back there for some more racing," the Manxman said.

Cavendish has won 15 stages in the Tour de France, five in the Giro d'Italia and four in the 2010 Spanish Vuelta to take the overall points jersey. He also triumphed in the 2009 Milan-San Remo classic race.

However, he has raised doubts over whether he will renew his contract with the team - whose sponsorship deal with Columbia expired at the end of the season - after next year.

There was friction between Greipel and Cavendish as the German served as understudy at HTC Columbia last year and Greipel's move to Omega Pharma-Lotto will set up an intriguing duel to begin the new season.

Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur hailed Cavendish as "undoubtedly one of, if not the best sprinter in the world".

"It's going to be great to watch Cavendish and Greipel go head-to-head in Adelaide," said Turtur. "They are superb sprinters and it will be fascinating to see who will come out on top."

HTC Highroad team manager Rolf Aldag said: "Santos Tour Down Under is obviously a very important race in our calendar.

"The team has won the overall and multiple stages the last three years. As a team, we enjoy the chance to prove that the hard work during the winter has paid off.

"The motivation from early wins at Tour Down Under gives the whole team a big boost for the first part of the season."

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see also
Cycling is victimised - Cavendish
22 Oct 10 |  Cycling
Cavendish feels 'abused' by team
09 Oct 10 |  Cycling
Cavendish wins Spain sprint title
19 Sep 10 |  Cycling
Cavendish earns Vuelta hat-trick
16 Sep 10 |  Cycling
Tour tougher than 2009 - Cavendish
23 Jul 10 |  Cycling

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