Sir Bradley Wiggins has been included in Team Sky's line-up for the Tour of Flanders which takes place on Sunday.

Somewhat a surprise inclusion, Wiggins will ride the Belgium Classic for the first time since 2005.

The 2012 Tour de France winner will also take part in the Scheldeprijs one-day race on 9 April before the cobbled Classic of Paris-Roubaix on 13 April, according to the Guardian.

An injury to Ian Stannard, one of Sky's linchpins in their one-day Classics squad, is believed to have forced the decision somewhat. Stannard suffered a fractured vertebrae in the Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday while their Australian rider Chris Sutton badly injured his knee in the same event.

Wiggins, who recently announced that he will compete at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer, has made a quiet start to this year's season. He finished third in the Tirreno-Adriatico's time trial stage in March before several changes to his schedule.

He was expected to race two one-day races in the build up to the Paris-Roubaix, then switched to the Tour of Catalonia before finally opting for altitude training in Tenerife instead.

Wiggins last rode the Tour of Flanders nine years ago as part of the Franch Credit Agricole team when he finished 81st. Tour de France contenders generally avoid both Flanders and Paris-Roubaix because of the substantial risk of crashing.

Stretches of cobbles feature in both events and are in themselves difficult to manoeuvre. Added to that, the fierce fight for positions before entering the cobbled stretches frequently leads to crashes. Lance Armstrong was the most recent exception when he finished 27th in the 2010 Tour of Flanders after coming out of retirement in 2009.

Wiggins will be expected to help Sky's leaders, Wales's Geraint Thomas and Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen.

Also confirmed for Flanders is Welshman Luke Rowe while Yorkshire's Ben Swift and Manxman Peter Kennaugh have both been named in Sky's team for next week's Tour of the Basque Country.

Meanwhile, Mark Cavendish has expressed his disappointment he was forced to pull out of Belgium's Three Days of De Panne race because of illness.

The sprinter suffered gastroenteritis after the Milan-San Remo, in which he finished fifth, and was also forced to withdraw from last Sunday's Gent Wevelgem classic. The Manxman will now travel home for tests and recuperation. His racing program will be reevaluated.

"I'm really disappointed,” said the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider in a statement released by his team.

"Sunday I felt better, and I was able to train well, but Sunday night I was sick again and had diarrhoea.

"I decided to come to the race anyway, hoping that the situation would improve, but I started vomiting and having diarrhoea again last night, at about 2am. I'm in no shape to start, especially because I can't eat or drink anything.

"After San Remo I wanted to continue to get some good results and ride well both at Gent-Wevelgem and here at the Driedaagse.

"It really is a big disappointment not to be able to race."

The Three Days of De Panne's second stage took place on Wednesday and Italian Sacha Modolo took the win after a sprint finish. Belgian Gert Steegmans took over the overall leaders jersey. 

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Topics:
Cycling
Sir Bradley Wiggins
Mark Cavendish