World champion Mark Cavendish will make his Team Sky debut at the Tour of Qatar next month.
Cavendish raced only one day after winning the world title last fall, riding to 42nd in Paris-Tours in October before putting an end to his season. So the Qatar race will mark only his second race day in the rainbow jersey and his first in a Team Sky jersey.
Cavendish debuted at the Qatar stage race in 2009, when he won two stages. Last year, he made his season debut at the Tour Down Under and later raced Qatar and the Tour of Oman before returning to Europe.
Cavendish’s early season goals will be the spring classics, with Milan-San Remo as his top target in the first part of the season.
Joining Cavendish will be many of the riders who likely form part of his new Team Sky train, including Bernhard Eisel and Michael Barry (both former Highroad teammates) as well as Jeremy Hunt and Ian Stannard.
Matt Hayman and Chris Sutton, both currently racing at the Tour Down Under, will link up with the squad in Oman.
Most of the members of Team Sky have been filtering in and out of Mallorca since December, where the squad has its pre-season base during December and January.
The first European race of the 2012 season will be the Mallorca Challenge, a series of five one-day races February 5-9.
New arrivals Richie Porte and Kanstantsin Siutsou will make their respective Team Sky debuts in Mallorca, while Vuelta a España runner-up Chris Froome will make his season debut there as well.
Bradley Wiggins, meanwhile, will make his season debut at the Volta ao Algarve (February 15-19) along the southern Portuguese coast. Edvald Boasson Hagen, currently racing in Australia, will also make his European season debut at Algarve.