Cycling

Cavendish looks to Olympics

2011-09-26 07:21
Mark Cavendish (File)

Copenhagen - Mark Cavendish added another significant line to his remarkable list of honours when he ended a 46-year wait for a British men's world road race title on Sunday.

Barely minutes after his latest exploit, the 26-year-old from the Isle of Man was talking up his chances of becoming Olympic champion at London in 2012.

With 20 Tour de France stage wins, and his first green jersey for the race's points competition in 2011, Cavendish has played a major role in putting Britain on the world cycling map in the past five years.

Yet he went one step better when he became only the second Briton, and the first since Tom Simpson in 1965, to pull on the famous rainbow stripes.

As a sprint specialist, Cavendish does not have the physical capacities to win a tough endurance test like the Tour de France yellow jersey.

But he believes he has won the next best thing.

"At the start of the season I said I had two goals: the green jersey, and the rainbow stripes," said Cavendish, who beat his Australian team-mate at HTC-Highroad, Matthew Goss, into second after the 260km race.

"I can't win the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, so this is the next best thing for me.

"In terms of professional cycling, you can't get anything better than winning the rainbow jersey. Now I get to wear the rainbow bands for the next year."

He added: "The Olympics is different, because you've only got five riders and the course next year will be more difficult than here.

"But I'm going to prepare as best as I can for it."

Cavendish's bid for gold at the worlds last year in Geelong ended prematurely when he appeared to have been mis-informed about the profile of the hilly Australian course.

But where last year he had only a few support riders, this year's road race course presented just too good an opportunity to miss for the British team.

It was mainly flat, and - if his team was able to get their tactics right - likely to end in the kind of bunch sprint Cavendish adores.

"We knew three years ago when this course was announced, we put a plan together to put these best guys together," explained Cavendish.

British riders throughout the peloton have since worked tirelessly for the results and rankings points that would allow Britain to qualify more riders for the world championships.

On the day the eight-man team were committed to keeping Cavendish protected and out of the wind and protected all day long, before the fast pace-setting of David Millar and Bradley Wiggins played a decisive role in tiring rivals in the final laps.

From then on Cavendish counted on Welshman Geraint Thomas and Ian Standard for support on the home straight.

But he was quick to share out the plaudits.

"We had eight of the best guys in the world. It was incredible, we took it on from start to finish," said Cavendish.

"Bradley Wiggins, he probably rode the whole of the last lap on his own.

"They all rode out their skins today. It's a shame they can't wear the world champion's jersey as well. I've won the jersey, but I just put the finishing touches to the mission."

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