Cavendish king of the road

2011-09-25 16:37

Copenhagen - Mark Cavendish became Britain's first world road race champion since the late Tom Simpson in 1965 when he dominated a bunch sprint to win the men's elite race at the road world championships here on Sunday.

Australian Matthew Goss finished second to take the silver with German Andre Greipel winning the bronze after 260km of racing.

"There couldn't be any other result after the way the guys rode today," Cavendish told Eurosport television as he paid tribute to his team-mates.

"I'm so proud."

Britain had taken a grip on the race early and, after a finale which saw no incisive attacks, Cavendish was left on his own to power up the inside of the barriers on the 500m uphill finish where he beat Goss by half a wheel.

Greipel was given the nod by judges for the bronze medal after a photo finish decision with Swiss Fabian Cancellara.

Reigning world champion Thor Hushovd of Norway was one of several top names who got stuck in a second chasing peloton following a crash on the sixth of the race's 17 14 km-long laps, which began after a 22 km ride from the city centre.

Among the other pre-race contenders Spaniard Oscar Freire - who had been aiming for a record fourth world crown - finished ninth, two places ahead of Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen.

Philippe Gilbert, the world No 1, had sent Belgian team-mates up to mark attacks and to toughen the pace for the chasing peloton.

But in the end the main bunch came back together on the final lap, depriving the Belgian of the chance to attack. He eventually finished in 17th place.

The first salvos in the race came early, an eight-man breakaway forming and going on to build a maximum lead of nearly 10 minutes on the main bunch.

Due to his lack of sheer sprinting power, Gilbert had counted on resting as much as possible by sending his team-mates up to the front.

And while Olivier Kaisen covered his bases by joining the early eight-man escape group, fellow Belgian Johan Van Summeren joined a counter-attack with seven laps to go.

A lap further on, Hushovd's and many others' hopes were dashed when a crash caused a split in the peloton. With the pace unrelenting up ahead, his group never recovered their deficit.

Welshman Geraint Thomas was also stuck behind, but his absence was soaked up by a British team which seemed intent on delivering Cavendish to the finish in optimal position.

Although a number of attacks came in the closing laps, including an attempt by French Tour de France star Thomas Voeckler, the pace being set by Britain's David Millar and Bradley Wiggins at the front of the peloton made sure they never got far.

While Millar dropped off with around 10kms to race, Wiggins led the team round the final bend.

Despite the Australians taking over on the 300m stretch leading to the uphill home straight, Cavendish crucially stayed near the front and drove hard for the line with 200m to go.

Results from the seventh and final day of the road world championships on Sunday:

Elite men

Road race (260 km)

1. Mark Cavendish (GBR) 5hr 40min 27sec, 2. Matthew Goss (AUS) same time, 3. Andre Greipel (GER) s.t., 4. Fabian Cancellara (SUI) s.t., 5. Jurgen Roelandts (BEL) s.t., 6. Romain Feillu (FRA) s.t., 7. Borut Bozic (SLO) s.t., 8. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) s.t., 9. Oscar Freire (ESP) s.t., 10. Tyler Farrar (USA) s.t., 11. Denis Galimzyanov (RUS) s.t., 12. Peter Sagan (SVK) s.t., 13. Anthony Ravard (FRA) s.t., 14. Daniele Bennati (ITA) s.t., 15. Rui Costa (POR) s.t., 16. Manuel Cardoso (POR) s.t., 17. Philippe Gilbert (BEL) s.t., 18. Michael Morkov (DEN) s.t., 19. David Veilleux (CAN) s.t., 20. Grega Bole (SLO) s.t.