Cavendish fit for Team Sky debut

British cyclist Mark Cavendish has been declared fit to make his Team Sky debut in the opening stage of the Tour of Qatar after recovering from illness.

The 26-year-old, who won

two stages 

of the event in 2009, did not take part in a training ride on Saturday after falling ill on his flight from London.

However, Cavendish has been passed fit for Sunday’s opening stage in Doha.

“We’re all delighted Mark has been able to battle back from the bug,” said Team Sky’s Sports Director Steven de Jongh.

Sunday’s opening 142.5km stage takes the riders from Barzan Towers to Doha Golf Club. It is the first of six stages and will see Britain’s world race champion ride for the first time in Team Sky colours.

“It will be a real boost to the rest of the guys to know that he’ll be starting,” De Jongh added.

“Our medical team have done a fantastic job in looking after him and Mark has followed their advice to the letter. Clearly, he’s not going to be at his best in the next few days but we’re hoping he’ll get stronger with every passing stage.

“We’ll continue to keep a very close eye on him but hopefully he’s over the worst of it now.”

Cavendish is joined in the eight-man squad by former HTC-Highroad team-mate Bernhard Eisel.

Davide Appollonio, Michael Barry, Juan Antonio Flecha, Jeremy Hunt, Christian Knees and Ian Stannard are also in the squad.

While Cavendish has been declared fit, the Tour has lost one of its marquee names after Germany’s Andre Greipel pulled out of the race due to illness on Thursday.

Greipel, who claimed his maiden Tour de France stage win in 2011, has enjoyed a blistering start to the season winning three stages at the Tour Down Under two weeks ago.

But his bid to test his early season sprinting legs against the likes of Cavendish will have to wait as he is suffering from fever, caused by a stomach virus, according to his Lotto-Belisol team.

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