Says Cavendish needs "the ride of his life" to win
Bradley Wiggins believes victory for Mark Cavendish at the UCI World Championship road race on Sunday would be the best of the Manxman's career, although he warned the race would be war for the peloton.
Speaking after the finale to the men's U23 race, Wiggins, part of an eight-man Team GB squad, believed the race would end in a sprint and one in which Mark Cavendish would have to produce "the ride of his life" to emerge victorious.
"It's going to be a war out there," said Wiggins, "and I think if we get one guy to that last corner with Cav, I think we will have been successful."
Wiggins, who won silver in the time trial earlier in the week, said he was personally relaxed but he spoke passionately about the challenge that lay ahead of the team and its star sprinter.
"[Cavendish is] going to have to do the ride of his life, and he has only ever done one ride of his life before and that was Milan-San Remo. Everything else he's won, he won easily. If he's ever going to do it with this team, with the form he's got, on this course, I think it could happen on Sunday."
He said the Manxman's form was good despite him pulling out of the Vuelta a Espana on stage 4. Cavendish completed a training block with GB teammate David Millar in Spain before completing the Tour of Britain which yielded two stage victories. Wiggins believes the fast course and the tactics of other nations such as Germany and USA will ensure a final sprint.
"The course is so fast. You can attack off the group that's doing 50-53km/h an hour but you've got to sustain 56-57km/h to get away, and it's just not going to happen.
"I think our plan is not to put anyone in the break - it's a wasted man who could be doing the job later on - but at the same time make sure the right break goes."
He said the dream scenario would be for the team to contribute to a combined effort to bring the break back late in the race before setting Cavendish up for the sprint.
He added David Millar would take responsibility for decision-making during the radio-free race.
"I think if Cav was to win on Sunday, that would go down as his best-ever victory in cycling, regardless of whether he won the Olympic road race next year. In cycling I don't think it gets much bigger than the Worlds. In historical terms you're following in a line of people who have dominated this sport."
He added that although Cavendish was feeling nervous and anxious, he was used to the pressure. "He's a leader through and through," said the Londoner.