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Cavendish became only the second Briton, and the first since Tom Simpson in 1965, to win the road race world champion’s rainbow stripes in Copenhagen on Sunday. The 26-year-old from the Isle of Man, who races for HTC-Highroad, has never won the late season French classic but is set to participate in his new rainbow stripes on October 9.
Organizers ASO are hoping Cavendish could buck a recent trend which has seen newly-crowned world champions failing to win the race. “Where Tom Boonen failed in 2005, just like Oscar Freire the previous year, Cavendish could become the first world champion to triumph in his new jersey on the famous Grammont Avenue,” said ASO.
Philippe Gilbert of Belgium, one of the most prolific riders in the peloton this season and a former two-time winner (2008, 2009), will also fancy his chances.
Norway’s Thor Hushovd, world champion in 2010, will line up for Garmin while Vacansoleil’s Romain Feillu will carry French hopes following his sixth place finish behind Cavendish in Copenhagen.
Former three-time world champion Oscar Freire of Spain won last year’s edition from a bunch sprint after Frenchman Geoffroy Lequatre, a late escapee, was caught in the final few hundred meters.