Cycling: Wonderful Copenhagen overflows with welcome signs for London 2012


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The Independent Online

With two golds, two silvers and two bronzes secured in Denmark, Great Britain's first-ever top spot in the medal standings in a World Road Championships could not have provided a better foundation for GB's road cycling prospects at London 2012.

In three out of the four events also on the Olympic programme – the men's and women's road-race, and respective time trials – Britain was a top-three finisher in Copenhagen.

Mark Cavendish's spectacular bunch sprint triumph yesterday in the men's road race has deservedly captured the most attention, and even as he was waiting to don the rainbow jersey of world champion the Briton has already said that securing a medal of the same colour in London will be his biggest objective next year.

However, Cavendish also preached caution, knowing that quite apart from the pressure of being the overwhelming favourite – which he had no problems with in Denmark – London will present three extra hurdles.

The Olympic road race on 28 July is less than a week after the Tour de France's final sprint on the Champs Elysées, the much hillier middle section of the London course is also likely to split the peloton and with just five GB riders, not eight as in Denmark, Cavendish's team-mates will have a far harder time pulling back any breakaways.

But Cavendish's victory will nonetheless vastly strengthen GB team morale prior to 2012 – and that, combined with his natural speed, could be an equally decisive factor. Bradley Wiggins' silver medal in the men's time trial was almost as encouraging.

Although the gap between himself and gold medallist Tony Martin, a whopping 75 seconds, suggests the Londoner will have his work cut out against the German, beating defending Olympic champion Fabian Cancellara for the second time in a month in Copenhagen was a result that will resonate through to next July.

Emma Pooley's progress against the clock has been even more remarkable. Her Olympic silver medal in Beijing came on a hilly course that favoured her climbing talents. In Denmark, her bronze on a course far flatter than anything the double national champion will face in London is another major step forward.