Cycling: King of the road Cavendish has mark of Classic star

Former UK cycling champion Tony Doyle on why the Manxman is striking fear into rivals around the world

The Team Columbia man's victory in the Milan-San Remo race 10 days ago, coming after he burst on to the scene in 2008 with his two stage wins in the Giro d'Italia and four in the Tour de France, was one of the all-time great achievements by a British rider. It's a huge race, and what Mark did stunned the cycling world. It raised him to a whole new level. Plus it showed that, after all the success we've had on the track in recent years, we can be a major force on the road too.

Yesterday was the climax of the Three Days of De Panne – the traditional warm-up race for the series of fierce challenges that dominate the calendar in northern Europe at this time of year. It's no picnic itself. The riders cover 500km (313 miles) in the three days, along the Belgian coast, and the roads are narrow and there are a lot of traffic islands to negotiate.

Mark responded amazingly, winning two of the four stages – and just for good measure Bradley Wiggins won the individual time trial that concluded proceedings yesterday. I don't ever recall a Continental stage race where two British riders won three stages between them.

Mark's real focus is on two Classics next week – Ghent-Wevelgem on Wednesday, also in Belgium, and the historic Paris-Roubaix the following Sunday, which is always a fight for survival on the pavés, and it's a matter of luck if you avoid crashing.

Ghent-Wevelgem has traditionally been a sprint finish, but when Mark rode it last year he didn't have the experience or the nerve to contest it. I was with him at the world track championships in Poland over the weekend and again in Belgium this week and that's all changed. Everyone knows he's the best sprint finisher in the world right now.

The frustration winter training. Milan-San Remo fuelled his appetite for success and gave him a massive confidence over his performance at the Beijing Olympics, when he and Wiggins could only finish eighth in the madison and Mark went home without a medal, made him all the more determined when he went into his boost. And his performance in the De Panne showed he is going from strength to strength.

Mark's always hungry for wins. That's why he went to the world track championships in Poland, where I thought the GB team did a lot better than they had credit for.

But attention is moving on. Mark can achieve much more in Classics and stage races, and British Cycling aims to have a team at the start of the 2010 Tour de France. We've shown we can conquer the world on the track. Now we can do it on the road.

Tony Doyle MBE won two track world championship titles, in 1980 and 1986

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sports Simulator / Home Cinema Installation Technician

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Simulation Tec...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Consultants - OTE up to £35,000

£15000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Franchise Operations Manager - Midlands or North West

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The position will be home based...

Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue