Win or lose in the Olympic road race tomorrow, Mark Cavendish will be back in the saddle on Sunday for a three-day sprint around the cycling hotbeds of Europe. Cavendish is booked to appear in a critérium in Belgium followed by another in France on Monday and then the Netherlands.
As Cavendish put it, he is a professional cyclist. Tomorrow he races for glory, on Sunday for pay as part of the Sky team that took him to the world road race title in Copenhagen last September. "Whatever happens I won't be celebrating," Cavendish said. "I have a day job to do in pro cycling. It's what I do. I have a rainbow jersey [mark of world champion] on my back and I want to do it proud."
Cavendish declared himself to be fighting fit ahead of his big day tomorrow, which is not always how he felt during three gruelling weeks in the service of Bradley Wiggins in the Tour de France. His schedule this year has been built around delivering gold at the Olympics. During the hard yards in the Alps, he admitted feeling fatigued and said the thought did cross his mind that he might not finish.
"At times on the Tour I was more tired than I thought. I spoke to them about it and asked them why I was feeling like that. They said, 'Yeah I know why you are tired, because it is hard and you have just completed four days in the Alps.' We got to the top of La Toussuire. It was the second day in the Alps. There were a couple of times after that when I thought I would not complete the race. I thought I could not go on for another 10 days."
That is all in the past for Cavendish. After a 120km (75-mile) ride around parts of the course, including the Surrey Alp, or Box Hill as it is better known, the loop around which the riders must go nine times. Cavendish is ready to go. "The team came properly together yesterday. It's the dream team. We are just buzzing. First and second in the Tour de France, four guys who have won stages and the British champion, all guys loyal to each other and all patriotic. I couldn't be in a better position."
Who else is in Team GB? Kings of the road
The Kenyan-born Froome has ridden under a British licence since 2008, as his father is from Britain. The 27-year-old is a specialist climber, which he showcased on the Tour de France this year when he ably assisted his Team Sky colleague Bradley Wiggins to a historic yellow jersey and finished second in the overall standings himself. So impressive was his performance in the Tour, he is already touted as one of the favourites to win next year. In addition to the road race tomorrow, Froome will also team up again with Wiggins in the time trial on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old is the only British cyclist to have worn all the Tour de France jerseys on various stages during the competition. Millar captained Great Britain to victory in the 2011 UCI World Championships road race, and his inclusion in this Olympics comes after a two-year ban from the sport for doping offences in 2004. The Scot, who was born in Malta, comes into the race in good form after winning Stage 12 on the Tour earlier this month.
The Team Sky rider, 25, turned professional in 2008, and was part of the road team alongside Millar and Wiggins that delivered Mark Cavendish to World Championship glory in September.