Tour de Yorkshire: Mark Cavendish eyes stage wins in comeback race

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Image caption The Tour de Yorkshire was launched in 2015 as a legacy of Yorkshire's successful hosting of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart

Britain's Mark Cavendish says he is capable of winning two stages in this week's Tour de Yorkshire in his comeback from a broken rib.

The 32-year-old Team Dimension Data rider has not raced since crashing heavily at Milan-San Remo on 17 March.

"There are sprint opportunities on the first day and the third day I will be looking to make the most of," Cavendish told BBC Radio 4.

The race - extended to four days this year - starts on Thursday in Beverley.

It will visit also Barnsley, Doncaster, Halifax, Ilkley, Richmond and Scarborough before finishing in Leeds on Sunday.

Cavendish's team-mate Serge Pauwels won the third edition of the event last year.

"We will look forward to try and defend it as a team with him," said Cavendish.

"Yorkshire is a hard place to ride a bike. Hopefully, Team Dimension Data can go and be successful over the four days."

Video caption Tour de Yorkshire: In 60 seconds

A record two million spectators watched the event last year, with organisers also extending the women's event - which also starts on Thursday - to two days.

Cavendish missed the Commonwealth Games after two high-speed crashes in March.

He crashed on stage one of Tirreno-Adriatico and then somersaulted over his handlebars in the Milan-San Remo one-day classic, suffering rib and ankle injuries.

Cavendish also dislocated his shoulder and suffered ligament damage in a crash near the end of stage one of the 2014 Tour de France, which took place in Yorkshire.

"I am lucky in my career. I have had good luck and I have had bad luck, but I am able to ride my bike again," said Cavendish.

"Obviously I am not in top, top condition but I am in good enough condition that I know I can go to some tough terrain around Yorkshire and be competitive."

The Tour de Yorkshire represents a rare opportunity for Cavendish to race closer to home, admitting in recent years he has only seen his family for 50-60 days a year.

"When I was younger I was doing my job for complete selfish reasons, I was doing it to be the best I could be, and I think anybody who has kids can understand your whole life mentality changes," he added.

"You are still as determined, you are just doing it for completely different reasons and you have to make every single pedal count otherwise it is in vain."

2018 Tour de Yorkshire route

Stage one: A 111-mile race race from Beverley to Doncaster for the men, with a slightly shorter course for the women. A largely flat stage which is expected to finish with a bunch sprint.

Stage two: A 92-mile race which starts in Barnsley and ends with the race's first ever summit finish at the famous Cow and Calf Rocks on Ilkley Moor. Like the first stage, the women's race will be shorter but also finish in the same place.

Stage three: A 112-mile race starting in Richmond and finishing, via the North York Moors, on Scarborough's North Shore - it will be the fourth time a stage has finished in the seaside town.

Stage four: A 118-mile stage which starts in Halifax and will involve 3,400m of climbing. The race finishes outside the Town Hall in Leeds, where the 2014 Tour de France began. This will be the first time the city centre has been closed off for an international race since the 2014 Tour de France.

You can get updates on the Tour de Yorkshire on the BBC website over the four days.