Norwegian says they're not friends in the race
Defending world champion Thor Hushovd said he will give no quarter or enter into an alliance with his future trade teammate Philippe Gilbert on Sunday's UCI road world championships.
Speaking at the Norwegian team's pre-race press conference today, Hushovd rubbished previous speculation that he would collaborate with the Belgian at Sunday's elite men's road race in Rudersdal near Copenhagen. The pair, who are friends off the bike, will team up at BMC Racing in 2012.
"Of course he's my friend but like in the Tour de France if he tried to fight to take my position I gave him my elbow, because when we race he's not my friend anymore. It's the same on Sunday," said Hushovd, who could become the first back-to-back world champion since Italy's Paolo Bettini in 2006/07.
In the Belgian press conference, Gilbert also quashed any speculation the pair would collaborate.
33-year-old Hushovd also said that comparing this course with last year's route in Geelong, Australia, he felt his chances of winning in Denmark were better because the 2011 course is easier, although the final uphill sprint is harder. Last year it was the opposite he said, and he needed a "super-good" day to take the win.
Come Sunday, Hushovd believes it will be difficult to drop pure sprinters such as Great Britain's much-fancied Mark Cavendish, he said, adding that the extreme distance could be a factor in deciding the winner.
"It's a course where riders will not get dropped. Myself and Mark Cavendish will not get dropped on one of the climbs because they are not hard enough. The thing is who will have the most power in the final sprint after 266km."
Hushovd's usual route into the world championships would be to ride the Vuelta a Espana, but his current team, Garmin-Cervélo opted to send him to the Tour of Britain instead. He said he was initially disappointed not to go to the Spanish stage race but given the severity of the route and the high quality training he completed instead, the lighter schedule could work in his favour.