Cycling: Cavendish faces an uphill task to win world title

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The Independent Online

Mark Cavendish will start today's World Championship road race as the favourite on the flat 266km course, but is likely to face tough opposition on the uphill finishing straight from powerful riders such as Fabian Cancellara, who lost his time trial title earlier this week, or the in-form Philippe Gilbert, the world No 1.

Cavendish has already shown he can handle such situations, like when he unexpectedly won the Milan San Remo classic in 2009, and his Sky team-mate Bradley Wiggins believes the race is set up perfectly for the Manxman. Wiggins said: "With the team we've got, with the form the team is in, it's exciting for us as a nation. I think [Cavendish has the strength]. He says he's in the form of his life. I suppose it just remains to be seen but if he's ever going to win [the world title], this is the course. It's going to take the ride of his life to win it. It always does to win a world title.

"It's become a bit of a routine for him winning Tour [de France] stages, but this is going to be a lot harder than that. It just gets faster and faster, there's no radio and half the time it's difficult to know actually how many riders are in the front."

Cancellara has unfinished business with the Copenhagen world championships, having finished a disappointing third in Wednesday's time trial. Belgian Gilbert, who won the GP de Wallonie, the GP de Quebec and the Clasica San Sebastien, will be also be force to be reckoned with. "I will start with no pressure," said Gilbert, who has already made sure he will finish the season as the world No 1.

The defending champion, Thor Hushovd of Norway, is a strong finisher while his compatriot Edvald Boasson Hagen and the Slovakian Peter Sagan have also been tipped for victory.