Mark Cavendish returns from injury in Tour de l'Ain

Mark Cavendish finished ninth in the Tour de l'Ain prologue as he returned to competitive racing for the first time since crashing on the opening stage of the Tour de France.

The 29-year-old recorded a time of five minutes 30 seconds in the 4.6km stage in Saint-Amour, eastern France.

Cavendish dislocated his shoulder and damaged ligaments during a sprint finish in Harrogate on 6 July.

The race marks the first test in his recovery following shoulder surgery.

There are four stages remaining, all less than 160km apiece.

If the Omega Pharma - Quick-Step rider comes through the race without injury, he is expected to compete in the Vuelta a Espana, the third and final Grand Tour of the year, which starts on 23 August.

Belgium's Gianni Meersman won the opening stage.