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Cavendish to return from injury at Tour de l'Ain

LONDON (Reuters) - Mark Cavendish will return to action in this month's Tour de l'Ain stage race in eastern France having recovered from the shoulder injury he sustained in the Tour de France opening stage, his team said on Wednesday.

The British rider, whose hopes of a home win in Harrogate ended in a high-speed crash, said he would use the race to gauge his recovery from the accident that forced him to abandon the Tour before the second stage with shoulder ligament damage.

"Tour de l'Ain will be important to see where I am at with my training and recovery from my injury, and also as a bit of a test at competition pace," Cavendish said on the Omega Pharma Quickstep team's website (www.omegapharma-quickstep.com).

"The rest of my program will be decided 100 percent after Tour de l'Ain depending on how I feel during that race. Tour de l'Ain will be the first time back in the peloton after the Tour."

Cavendish, who has 25 stage wins on the Tour, said he would have liked to have competed at this weekend's Prudential Ride London Classic - a 100-mile mass race for amateur riders with a pro race thrown in for good measure.

"I think it will be a wonderful event given the amazing support for cycling in the UK," he said.

"I was so proud of what I saw from the public in the opening stage of the Tour and I wish I could be there to race in front of my British supporters."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)