Adam Yates may have been a late draft into the Great Britain team for the World Championships but national coach Shane Sutton believes he has the best chance of taking a medal in the elite men’s road race.
Lizzie Armitstead won the rainbow jersey in the women’s race with an aggressive final lap and then a perfectly executed sprint finish. She distanced the sprinters on the final climb and then had the speed to beat Anna van der Breggen and Megan Guarnier in the sprint. The Great Britain men’s team is hoping for a similar outcome after losing Mark Cavendish as team leader due to a shoulder injury.
The elite men’s team will compete with eight riders, one down on their allocated quota of nine. Tour de France winner Chris Froome foot injury at the Vuelta a Espana ruled him out of the team while Geraint Thomas removed himself from the team last week, citing exhaustion.
“When you lose someone like Cavendish, who has won this and been such an influence, that was tough. Then Thomas would have had a chance on this circuit but he’s gone and it’s just been one setback after another for the team,’ Sutton admitted to Cyclingnews.
Yates, 23, comes into the Worlds in fine fettle having taken second place in the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal and second place in the Tour of Alberta. He won the Clasica San Sebastian in August, the first British rider to do so in the race’s relatively short history.
“The inclusion of Adam Yates means that we have a player who has had great results and has a real chance on this circuit. Hopefully we can all get behind him. Guys like Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe, I don’t know the entire strategy but they can also do things on a given day,” Sutton told Cyclingnews.
“A race like this is pretty much governed by the big nations so we’ll have to align ourselves with that, and maybe put our eggs in Adam’s basket and then possibly giving Ian a free role. I’ve not talked to Rod Ellingworth about it all yet but there’s real depth. It’s a shame that some of the big names couldn’t make it.”
Great Britain last claimed the World elite men’s title in 2011 when ‘Project Rainbow’ culminated in Mark Cavendish taking the title. Since then team have had a mixed set of results in the men’s race and have failed to come close to a podium. Sutton feels that the demands of such a long season, especially with the British riders – in the main – putting so much effort into success at the Tour plays a part.
“The demands on these guys, and with Team Sky, means that by the end of the season they’re all pretty much fried. This takes a coach to take a collective approach, like we did with Cav in 2011 and work towards that.”
The ultimate target for Sutton and his Great Britain team on both the road and the track will come at the Rio Olympics in 2016, where they will be in the hunt for a number of medals, especially after their track dominance from the last two Games and the three road medals they secured on the road in London in 2012.
“We’re doing a lot of good work towards Rio and I think we’ll be more successful there. I think people look back to Italy and how disappointing we were there but we have a decent squad here and I think we’ll be competitive.”