McQuaid believes tricky Olympic course could catch Cavendish out
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Friday, July 27, 2012

McQuaid believes tricky Olympic course could catch Cavendish out

by VeloNation Press at 9:17 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Olympics
Irishman says road race will be harder than many expect

Mark CavendishInfluenced by the dominant Tour de France showing by the Sky team, Mark Cavendish’s sprint victory on the Champs Elysees last Sunday and the obvious motivation the British team will have in its home Olympics, many see Cavendish as the most likely winner of tomorrow’s Olympic road race.

However UCI president Pat McQuaid has said that his own knowledge of the race route means that he believes a surprise could be in store.

“Cavendish…I don't know. The course is much trickier than it looks,” the Irishman told Reuters. “I went to college on the course in the early 1970s, I used to cycle around those roads quite a lot, I used Box Hill a lot as a student.”

A very different route was original planned by the Games organisers but the UCI was not satisfied with the layout and said that it wanted changes. McQuaid indicates that he was involved in coming up with the new route, using that knowledge of Box Hill. After racing out from London, the riders will complete nine laps of a 15.5 kilometre circuit, ascending the climb each time.

This could act as a platform to break things up, said McQuaid. He added that 2004 Olympic champion and current Italian team coach Paolo Bettini gave the same assessment to him last year.

"After the test event finished, Bettini came to me and he said it is not going to be as easy as people think,” he said. “It's very much like a Belgium classic. These are small roads, up and down.”

The UCI president acknowledged that a Cavendish win would be a very popular result for the Olympics, given that it is on home soil, but said that the course meant it wasn’t a given that things would work out that way.

“It could suit Gilbert, and Tom Boonen if he is in good form could be up there,” he said. “If it splits or a breakaway gets away, it could be anyone.”

Cavendish will be backed by four riders, namely his Sky team-mates Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome – who finished first and second overall in the Tour – Ian Stannard and Garmin-Sharp rider David Millar.

He won the world road race championships last year due largely to the efforts of a similar British team, but had eight riders at his disposal then versus just four now.

That will make controlling the race much more difficult, prompting the British riders to seek an unofficial allegiance with certain other teams to help ensure a bunch sprint.

One of those which the British team planned to approach is the German team. It includes Andre Greipel, who took three stages in the Tour de France, but he may be reluctant to arrive at the finish with Cavendish. The Manxman has said that he is fired up and confident of beating all of his rivals if it is a big gallop to the line.


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