Mark Cavendish will make a shock return to the Tour de France this summer after being named as Deceuninck-QuickStep’s lead sprinter.
The 36-year-old has won 30 stages at the Tour, the last coming in 2016, but has not competed at the race for three years.
He has been in resurgent form this year but looked set to miss out on a place in the Deceuninck-QuickStep team with Sam Bennett defending his green jersey.
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However, a knee injury to Bennett has seen him ruled out and Cavendish take his place.
Cavendish won four stages at the Tour of Turkey earlier this year and then notched another stage win at the Belgium Tour after replacing Bennett in the line-up.
His tally of stage wins at the Tour de France puts him behind only Eddy Merckx (34) in the all-time standings. Cavendish also became Britain's first green-jersey winner in 2011.
"I am delighted to be going back to the Tour de France with Deceuninck-QuickStep," said Cavendish.
"Obviously, the circumstances with Sam could be better – he had a special Tour last year and I am sad for him not being able to defend his green jersey. But at the same time, I am excited to be going back to a race that I have such an affinity with and where I have so much history. It is the biggest bike race in the world, and I am going to do all I can to grab this opportunity with both hands."
Cavendish joins world champion Julian Alaphilippe and Ronde van Vlaanderen victor Kasper Asgreen as part of the Deceuninck-QuickStep team.
"I’m very disappointed to not be able to defend my green jersey,” said Bennett.
"I had a very minor incident during training a couple of weeks ago, which affected my knee. It impacted my training for the biggest bike and without enough time to be race fit."
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