Tour de France stars Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins and David Millar are poised to form part of Great Britain's strongest ever line-up for the world road championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland, next month.
"They've all three requested selection," said the GB road endurance coach Rod Ellingworth – a request which looks almost certain to be granted.
Cavendish and Millar will both be present at a two-day worlds training camp to be held in Mendrisio later this week. Thirteen of the 14 riders on Ellingworth's longlist will be there. This will finally be reduced to nine – the maximum permitted by any nation – for the sport's one-day race itself.
Thanks to Cavendish and Wiggins performances this year, Great Britain has moved to eighth overall in the international rankings, their highest ever position and one which gives the country the right, for the first time, to field so many riders in the world championships.
With just one male world championships win to their name, back in 1965, Britain's new super-power status is a far cry from as little as six years ago, when they had only two world's participants and shared a team car with another country.
"Before we were scrabbling round for good world's riders, now it's really tough to get a place," Ellingworth said.
"There's no more mucking around in the race, either, with people trying to get in a lucky breakaway. We're concentrating on building up a core group and overall strategies."
Globally codenamed Project Rainbow Jersey – the design of the jersey worn by cycling's world champion – GB's targets are rising and training camps like Mendrisio are just one of a raft of measures designed to foster stronger team spirit.
"Some of the guys have never raced with Cav, for example, but now they send him emails congratulating him on his wins," Ellingworth added .
This week in Mendrisio, the team will also decide on their specific aims for 2009. The Swiss course is believed to be too hilly for Cavendish – although he surprised more than a few by winning the undulating Milan-San Remo Classic this year – so other options may come into play.
Ellingworth believes top placing for Cavendish in Melbourne's world's next year and Copenhagen in 2011 is a possibility with London's Olympic road-race in 2012 the ultimate goal.Reuse content