Great Britain start cycling's World Championships in Copenhagen today spurred on by the prospect of Mark Cavendish ending their 35-year drought in the biggest event of all, the men's road race – but that's not all they are looking for.
Second only to the host nation Australia on medal count last year with silver for Dave Millar and a gold for Emma Pooley in their respective time trials, this time round GB staff are quietly confident they can at the very least double that.
"It's not out of the question that we could win all four of the main medals," said the GB road coach, Rod Ellingworth. "In terms of terrain and riders, Denmark is pretty much as good as it's going to get. Mark is really up for it. And Bradley [Wiggins – men's time trial contender] is thinking the same. When you look at the Worlds route, both for him and Mark, it's just about perfect."
Crucial for Cavendish's chances – and a sign of Britain's rising power in cycling – is the number of riders the Manxman will be able to count on during next Sunday's 260-km (163-mile) road race.
With GB ranked sixth in the world, rather than 16th as was the case last year, Cavendish will be supported by seven riders in Copenhagen – one short of the maximum possible – not just the measly two he had as backing in the 2010 championship.
"The extra help is vital," Ellingworth added. "It's very tough to win without team support, but with eight riders we definitely can. Last year when we found out we had just two riders for Cavendish it was a massive knock to their motivation and in September, when riders are starting to suffer from the end-of-season blues, that's so important – you have to be super-motivated. I know for sure, though, that guys like [Chris] Froome and Ian Stannard, who have just finished the Tour of Spain, are going to be up there. It's going well and we're happy where we are."
The GB Team Principal, Dave Brailsford, added: "Cavendish should have done at least another 10 days of the Tour of Spain [he retired during the fourth stage], but he's been racing in the Tour of Britain this week and we're confident in his chances. But so much depends on the day in the Worlds – just a little cold can put you off your stride – any little thing can make a difference and that makes it difficult to call, but Mark is doing everything right."
Cavendish won the final stage of the Tour of Britain in London yesterday, coming out on top in a bunch sprint on Whitehall. Lars Boom of the Netherlands, who went into the final day with a lead of 28 seconds made sure of overall victory by coming second to Britain's Alex Dowsett in the time trial. Boom eventually won by 36sec, Steve Cummings of Sky finishing second.
The HTC-Highroad sport director, Allan Peiper, said: "The crowds were great today, it was a spectacular finish for Cav in his home country, as well as for the team to finish a long tour on a high note."Reuse content