• Mark Cavendish will ride the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Mark Cavendish is a confirmed starter for next month's Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race.
Cycling Central

7 Dec 2015 - 12:42 PM 

British cycling ace Mark Cavendish will start his season at next month's Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race.

Event organisers have confirmed the 30-year-old sprinter will compete at the 31 January event.

It will also be Cavendish's debut with Team Dimension Data.

Cavendish is the third-most prolific Tour de France stage winner with 26 and he won the 2011 world road race championship.

His last Australian race was the 2011 Tour Down Under.

Cavendish is the first big overseas rider to confirm he will start at next year's Cadel Evans race and he joins Australian pair Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Rohan Dennis (BMC) as the headline names in the field.

He is also the second big overseas cycling name to announce he will race this summer in Australia, but not at the Santos Tour Down Under.

The Adelaide event is Australia's only top-level WorldTour race.

Last month, two-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Sky) announced he will compete at the February Herald Sun Tour in Victoria.

The confirmations of Froome and Cavendish are a massive boost for the profile of the Victorian events.

It also continues a trend where big names accept lucrative contracts to race early in the season at non-WorldTour events.

World champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), last year's Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and this year's Tour runner-up Nairo Quintana (Movistar) will all compete next month at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina.

"We wanted cycling's biggest names in Victoria and that's exactly what we've got," Victorian tourism minister John Eren said in a statement.

"The top names belong in the state that does the big events best.

"We want the big sporting events in Victoria, because they mean jobs for locals and a stronger economy."