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Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews coverage of the Elite men road race.
There are just a few iminutes to the start of the race and the tension is rising as the riders sign and line-up in the centre of Copenhagen.
As forecast, the weather is dry and relatively warm. It is currently 15C and is predicted to be around 19C for most of the day.
The men face an official distance of 266km.
The race starts in the centre of Copenhagen and then heads north along the coast to the circuit.
The riders are on the start line, ready for the 10:00am start.
It's the quiet before the storm.
And they're off!
The Danish team rightly lined-up on the front, with the other major nations just behind them.
Peter Sagan of the Czech Republic was near the front. He is consider the dark horse of the race.
2010 world champion Thor Hushovd has shaken hand with some of his rivals. May the best man win.
The race is actually neutralised for six kilometres, meaning the riders face a total of 272km on the bike today.
Like any race, the riders are keen to get going and are angering the race judge for moving past the lead car.
Bradley Wiggins is at the front, perhaps showing that Great Britain is serious about it's plans to set up Mark Cavendish for victory.
The riders have to be careful of the tram tracks.
Some of the minor nations seem ready to go on the attack as soon as the red flag drops.
The only rider not to start is Roman Kreuziger.
Kreuziger is from the Czech Republic. We said that Sagan is too but he's actually from Slovakia.
We have the first attacks of the day as soon as the flag was dropped.
A small group is trying to go away, with a Croatian rider leading the way.
The bunch is not letting them get away though. That is probably going to be the theme for the day.
Riders are accelerating out of every turn.
The riders are now on the coast road. Letsa see if the wind helps the early break go clear.
Several riders are trying to move across to the lone Croatian.
We also have our first wheel change, with Carlos Barredo (Spain) stopping for a rear change.
A Ukrainian rider is now up front but the peloton refuses to let anyone ge clear for now.
It will be interesting to see how big the eventual early break is. The leading nations will not want any strong riders up there from rival teams.
A big breakaway could also be a threat.
Italy is invovled in the chasing up front.
The race has headed inland now and will soon be on the circuit.
France is also active in the chase.
All back together again as we come out from the trees to see the blue sky. The weather will not be a factor today, surely favouring a sprint finish.
Germany's Andreas Klier has had a rear puncture but is quickly back on his way.
Three riders are away and behind others are attacking, trying to get across.
Great Britain seemed happy to let the three go away, as two other riders join them.
But behind Italy and others lead the chase. They didn't like the presence of a Frenchman in the move.
The riders are on the circuit now and are heading to the finish line for the first time.
There are huge crowds in the finish area, with lots of red Isle of Man flags flying for Cavendish.
Three riders were timed at ten seconds clear.
A Belgian is trying to go across to the trio but that will only put an end to the attack.
The riders are now on the only slight climb of the circuit.
The circuit rises just 40 metres each lap.
The pace is still high and we've had an average close to 50km/h for the first 30 minutes.
Wiggins is now on the front of the bunch, slowing the pace to keep things under control.
The peloton enjoyed a brief respite on th higher exposed fields on the circvuit but we already have another attack.
Ian Stannard is also policing the attacks.
Roux of France has tried to nudge another move clear but again the peloton reacts.
228km to go. Close to six hours of racing.
We have seven riders in another move, with others chasing again.
A Brazilian rider trying to go across.
The rider are heading to the finish again. 36km covered.
The peloton is now almost a minute behind.
It looks like this could be the early break of the race.
Great Britain is controlling the peloton behind. This could be the move.
Lets get the names of all the riders in the move.
Otavio Bulgarelli (Brazil) and Ivan Mauricio Casas Buitrago (Colombia) are chasing to get across to the front move.
The peloton has eased off totally now and the break's lead is growing close to two minutes.
The break has already covered 50km of the 266km race distance.
The average speed is 48.3km/h.
The gap to the break is now 3:27. It will surely grow even more in the next few laps.
Otavio Bulgarelli (Brazil) and Ivan Mauricio Casas Buitrago (Colombia) are trying to get across to the break but they are losing gruond and are sruckin no-man's land.
The gap is now up to five minutes.
The seven are working smoothly at the front,doing regular turns.
Spain and France seem to have gained an advantage by placing Lastras and Roux in the break. It will be up to the other leading nations to chase.
Lastras has just been back to the doctors car but does not seem to have any major problems.
Several teams are talking to their team cars, discussing tactics and plans for the finale, no doubt.
Luca Paolini is talking to Italian coach Paolo Bettini.
There is some debate about if France has made a mistake by getting a rider in the break.
It means France does not haver to chase but also leaves them a man down for later in the race.
The break is again on the rise to the finish.
It's not flat but it's surely wrong to call it a climb.
Lastras was not happy with his team helper going through the pits. Perhaps there is no one in the second pits handing up drinks.
The gap is still growing rapidly and is now more thna six minutes. That is why Germany's Bert Grabsch is now riding tempo on the front.
Two Belgian riders are noewe back at the team car, talking tactics. In Flemish or French?
Brad Wiggins is also near the front for Great Britain as the peloton goes through the pit areas just before the finish.
The gap is now 7:43. This is getting serious.
Cyclingnews spoke to Tyler Farrar before the start of the race. He is not sure of his form but pointed out the importance of timing that final sprint effort.
“I don’t think we’re going to go out to try and make the race the hard,” Farrar told Cyclingnews before the start. “We’re going to see how it unfolds and I’m hoping it comes down to just a straight up field sprint. I’m happy to try my odds in that scenario.”
He admitted that he is unsure of his condition after being forced to abandon the Vuelta a España at the end of week one following a crash: “I feel good, but we’ll see after 270k how I feel. It’s going to be a case of wait and see. I’m not 100 percent sure of where my form is at, I haven’t raced for a month.”
The uphill drag to the line will pose difficult questions in the event of a sprint finish, and Farrar acknowledged that timing would be crucial.
“It’s a real power sprint. It’s a question of timing your effort right, not too early, not too late, but it’s also a question of just having the legs.”
Germany and Great Britain are sharing the work on the front and the gap is coming down slightly.
Mark Cavendish is staying carefully protected in the peloton.
Steve Cummings is working on the front, riding tempo with teammate David Millar sharing the turns with Germany.
The laps are ticking by. There are now 13 laps to go as the break goes through the finish again.
Wiggins and Froome are also close to the front but the gap is now 8:00
GB are massing on the front with six riders. That is a huge commitment so early in the race.
They may be safer up front but the other nations will sit back and let them, or force them, to do a lot of the work.
Two riders are dangling off the front of the bunch, as the gap is pegged at 8:05.
The riders have covered 78km now.
The riders still face 188km of racing.
Andre Greipel of Germany is getting some mechanical attention at the back of the bunch.
GPS data shows that the peloton is close to half a lap behind the breakaway.
The break is back at the finish area. The 14km laps are being covered in less than 18 minutes.
Lastras is leading the break and seems to be getting a little frisky.
We've been studying the international media so that you don't have to. We';ll have all the inside information from Gazzetta dello Sport and L'Equipe very soon.
The peloton has pulled back a few seconds and is about to sweep up Otavio Bulgarelli (Brazil) and Ivan Mauricio Casas Buitrago (Colombia).
The peloton has swooped through what will be the final corner. It is not actually that wide and could cause some crashes later in the race as the speed goes up. A pile-up on the last corner before the sprint could also happen.
Chris Froome is now leading for Great Britain.
Great Britain and Germany are using several riders on the front, while Italy, Belgium France, Spain, Australia are all sitting back and keeping their nine riders fresh for the finale.
Otavio Bulgarelli (Brazil) and Ivan Mauricio Casas Buitrago (Colombia) have now been caught, leaving us with the seven breakways and the peloton as we hit the 100km mark of the race.
The gap to the peloton is now 7:15.
The predictions of the eventual winner have been split with some convinced the circuit is perfect for Mark Cavendish and the other sprinters and some suggesting that a breakway may form in the finale and so allow Philippe Gilbert to win.
Mario Cipollini won the last sprinter's world championships in Zolder, Belgium in 2002. He is convinced Cavendish can win.
Cipo told Gazzetta dello Sport: "The finish suits Cavendish. If they take him to 200 metres to go, it'll only be his fault if he loses. The course is easier than when I won. In the sprint you've got to stay on a wheel until the road kicks up and have at least two teammates wiht you."
Cavendish was a little nervous before the start but told Cyclingnews: "The preparation has gone great and the team spirit is really high. My condition is really good. We just have to work hard to keep the bunch together"
The peloton goes through the finish 6:59 behind the seven-rider breakaway.
Cyclingnews asked Quick Step team manager Patrick Lefevere who was going to win today.
His response: “Me. Really? Cavendish. I think we’ll have 100 riders at the finish for the sprint. I have three riders in the field today. Chavanel has only one bullet though because you can’t attack three time here."
We also spoke to his big Belgian rival andcurrnet Omega Pharma manager Marc Sergeant. He said: "Gilbert will win and I think he’ll break away with Boasson Hagen. It’s just a prediction though."
We will find out who is right in about four hours.
Cyclingnews spoke to Dan Martin (Ireland) and Tyler Farrar (USA) before the start. You can see the video here.
Chris Froome is still working hard on the front, reducing the gap to 6:15
Ireland’s Mark Brammeier has recovered from the throat infection that forced him to pull out of Wednesday’s time trial before halfway and was among the starters this morning. Like many, he expects a bunch finish.
“I think it’ll be a big peloton, there won’t be many guys dropped, probably 180 guys going to the finish,” he told Cyclingnews. “There might be some confusion, a crash or a small break may stay away on the last lap, but I think there’s a 90% chance of a bunch sprint.”
Brammeier reckons his HTC-Highroad teammate Mark Cavendish is well capable of dealing with the drag to the finish: “If he hits the last corner fresh, then I think nobody can beat him.”
A recent addition to Omega Pharma-Quick Step for next season, Brammeier said there would be no repeat of his early escape in Geelong last year. “I was looking for a contract last year and trying to get myself out there and get a bit of publicity,” he said. “Hopefully I’m past being in the TV breakaway this year and I’ll try and take part in the race a bit more.”
The peloton is going through the feed zone, picking up bottles and musettes.
The gap is now 5:45.
Anders Lund of Denmark had a slight mechanical after a few riders touched wheels and tumbled. A US rider was involved but all were up and away quickly.
It was Ben King from the USA who hit the road.
Chris Froome and Steve Cummings are working hard for Great Britain, swapping with Bert Grabsch of Germany as the try to eat into the lead of the breakaway.
The gap is now 5:30.
Cyclingnews also spoke to Ireland's Nicolas Roche. He told us: "Today is a question of hiding and not missing the right move. I think a break can go on the final lap and stay away. Not by much but I think you can gamble because there are a lot of riders who won't want to wait for the sprint. There are three of us here for Ireland and we’re not here to pull on the front and we’ve no proper plan because none of us are Worlds specialists. We’ll try and do something but just start out safely."
A perfect scenario for Germany and Great Britain is if the break is caught very close to the finish. However the Italian and Belgian teams will surely have a game plan that includes several powerful sustained surges in the final laps to try and break up the peloton and make the sprinters suffer.
Manuel Quinziato of Italy is talking to Bettini, discussing tactics and strategy.
Great Britain has backed off from the chase, letting Germany do the bulk of the work.
Several riders in the break pick up drinks and food as they go through the finish area.
Gazzetta dello Sport suggests that Cavendish will have seven or eight 'friends' in the peloton from other nations, including friend and teammate Bernhard Eisel.
There are always suspicions that trade team riders work together or in parallel to ensure one of their riders wins.
The peloton goes through the finish 5:30 behind the break, with other spills in the pits as riders feed.
It looks like Tim Duggen (USA) was caught up in that one.
He is quickly back up and is casing to catch the peloton.
Gazzetta believes that other nations who will work to try and ensure the race ends in a sprint are: Germany (Kittel, Greipel and Degenkolb), USA (Farrar) and Spain (Freire).
They also include 2010 world champion Thor Hushovd (Norway) in the sprinters group, with Gilbert (Belgium), Boasson Hagen (Norway) and Peter Sagan (Slovakia) in the group of attackers.
Gazzetta suggests Italian coach Paolo Bettini ihas split the team into two groups. One for a sprint finish and one for the posisble attacks. In the sprint trai -dubbed Eurostar A are: Bennati, Oss, Viviani and Tosatto. That could be their lead out train.
Modolo, Visconti, Paolini and Gavazzi are in the attackers group, with Quinziato responsible for talking to the team car and managing tactics.
Ben King (USA) is now helping on the front as the gap falls to 5:18.
The break is back at the finish area.
Bettin told Gazzetta: "On this course when you attack, you've got to scare people. During the race the riders have to be smart about how they race. The circuit makes it a real poker match."
"If everything goes right, It'll be Oss with Bennati. The worlds is not like a grand tour stage. 80% of the riders will be holiday on Monday, meaning that any thing can happen. It'll be a difficult sprint."
As the peloton goes through the finish, the race seems to have awoken.
Johan Van Summeren (Belgium), Offredo (France) and Luca Paolini (Italy) on the attack.
A second Belgian is in the move, plus an Australian.
The Australian rider is Simon Clarke, as Paolini pushes the pace.
These guys are going for it.
The second Belgian is Oliver Kaisen.
The gap to the front break is 4:52.
About 110km left to race, meaning this could be a crazy last two hours or so.
Kaisen and Clarke are working hard to make this go away.
Dan taking over for Stephen now.
Simon Clarke is chopping wood faster than he can swing the axe. I dont know what that means but it sounds exciting.
In all seriousness the Australians and Belgians are sticking to their plans and trying to make this race as hard as possible.
Team GB will have to respond now but they'll expect help from the Germans at the very least.
Offredo is just sitting at the back of the chase group. He has Roux up the road and doesnt have to do any work at the moment. The French are having an inspired Worlds.
Two Belgians in the lead group, one of them the Paris Roubaix winner, one a trade teammate of Gilbert.
Back in the bunch Cavendish is riding safely in the bunch, Sagan isn't too far away from him. Freire and Sutton riding next to each other as well.
And The GB has started to respond and moved back to the front of the field.
The break head through the field and the counter attack has meant Lastras has moved to the front. The Spanish playing a very clever game, not doing any of the chasing and just using Lastras to make the pace as hard as possible.
The counter attack heads up through the feedzone as Cummings sets the pace at the head of the bunch. Germany, and the US come to assist.
Clarke is riding well, marshalling the chase in the second group as Offredo continues to sit at the back.
Ben King, the former US champion moves to the front of the field. Hunt is with Cavendish, the two GB riders have been riding next to each other all day.
The Dutch riders, who dont really have a sprinter, have moved up. They would have wanted to be in one of these two moves but they've missed out.
King, leading the field, gets a corner all wrong and has to unclip. He hasn't fallen, luckily, and he'll be back in the bunch in no time.
The peloton are starting to make inroads into both groups' advantages but another rider, this one from Italy, jumps off the front of the bunch.
Poos is done and he's about to swept up by the chase group.
170km covered and GB and Germany on the front. They're split by King.
6 laps to go and it's advantage France and Spain at the moment. Lastras has only started to work so he'll be fresh, while the French have a man in each move. Offredo hasn't done any work yet.
A couple of the break riders are starting to miss turns as Van Summeren continues to bury himself. Belgium can afford to sacrifice riders at this stage.
An Italian attacks in the feedzone. Visconti. Classy move.
Over the top of the climb and Cancellara jumps but he's caught straight away, in the process he's brought back Visconti.
Gerrans is on second wheel and the field are totally strung out. There are going to be phases like this throughout the race. The sprinters' teams can't panic but they've got to maintain some control.
The bunch ease up slightly after that surge of pace.
GB move back to the front again. They'll want to pace high but steady.
Another crash at the back of the bunch and Kadri is down on the ground near the barriers.
Frank Schleck and Farrar are caught up. Barry is there too and Farrar is on the ground.
Ivanov is also there.
It looks like Frank Schleck is pulling out. He's walking around but shaking his head.
We're hearing that Hushovd is in trouble but we cant see him on the deck.
No radios so King continues to work on the front. Frank Schleck is back on his bike and it looks like he'll now continue.
There's a big second group and in there is Hushovd, we think Farrar too. So GB will surely up the pace.
There's still no time gap to the large group caught behind the crash.
5 laps to go and the two front groups have merged.
So two Belgians, two Frenchmen in this lead group. King still on the front of the bunch doing a good job and Weening attacks at the top of the hill.
The gap to the break is 1:15.
All three riders from NZ riders are in the crash group and they're around 40 seconds down on the bunch. O'Grady, Cancellara, Fuglsang, Sutton, Boasson Hagen, Rogers all in that group.
Hushovd is there too. A nightmare for Norway.
Farrar is in the main peloton. Relief for the US.
And Mollema goes on the offensive. Sorensen, Niki too. with an Australian rider for company.
They've caught Weening so the Dutch are starting to play their hand in this race.
Hushovd is doing all the work in the second peloton.
A few corrections: Farrar and Hagen are with the lead group. We'll bring you confirmations as we get them.
It looks like Hushovd and Martin (T) are the only big names caught up from the crash but that GB have lost Thomas.
Farrar, Bennati and Freire are all with the main bunch. Sagan too.
Meanwhile the lead group continues to press on. They've got a mix of riders there, some of them having been on the attack since very early in the race. That could really affect the tempo.
Paolini has been pulling for at least a 1km. Van Summeren comes through and takes a turn but there are some riders really hanging on.
The group of Mollema and Weening has been caught.
204km raced and four laps to go
Visconti and Gerrans try and force a gap at the top of the climb.
And we're about to hand back to Stephen.
The two French riders are working hard on the front now. It's safe to say that we're into the finale of the race now.
Italy is itching to get some one else up the road. Bettini won't be happy with just Paolini in the move.
Here we go.
Anders Lund (Denmark) jumpes away, as the gap is 1:26.
Great Britain is riding a team time trial on the front of the peloton.
It's a heroic effort but will they have the riders for the final two laps when the big names are expected to attack?
The attack is being chased by the peloton, with the riders in one long line.
All back together.
Froome got across and slowed that move but his work is done. He's empty and is slipping out of the back.
GB still dominating the chase.
The gap is now 57 seconds.
Fortunately for GB, Geraint Thomas is in the front group despite being caught up in the crash.
Thor Hushovd's big group is now 2:22 back. It's surely race over for all of them.
Other riders caught behind include Greg Henderson and Julian Dean of New Zealand and Svein Tuft of Canada.
Tony Martin (Germany) and Bernhard Eisel (Austria) also behind.
According to split results, Tyler Farrar and Taylor Phinney are in the front peloton.
The break is into the finishing straight but the gapseemings to be growing. As Italy attack.
The gap is still a minute, as Visconti and Gavazzi lead an attack.
Gavazzi won a stage of the Vuelta and is strong.
We have just less than three laps to go now.
Luca Paolini of Italy seems to be slowing the break The gap is now 42 seconds and an attack has split the peloton.
Albasini was one of the most aggressive in the attack.
Some of the riders in the front break are cruising as they wait for the race to come back together.
The new attacks includes Nick Nuyens (Belgium)
Mick Rogers (Australia) is also up there.
As is Thomas Lofkvist (Sweden).
Behind Lars Bak (Denmark) tries to jump across.
Still no sign of Philippe Gilbert today. Will he wait until the last two laps?
David Millar is leading the chase for Great Britain.
Great Britain are carefully pulling back every attack, not by jumping after them but by griding it out like a team time trial.
It's heroic stuff but will they have the firepower for the final two laps and to lead out the sprint?
Upfront, Anthony Rouix (France) goes off the front, looking to keep the break alive.
Roux is whipping it up at the head of the race.
Bak is going across the gap as the race goes through the finish area. Just two laps to go now.
The remains of the break is at 14 seconds with the peloton at 51 seconds. Rasch and Arvesen worknig for Edvald Boasson Hagen.
Gilbert was still hiding in the guts of the peloton.
The Belgian riders are trying to close down Roux but they must know the race is going to hit them from behind.
Bak is getting huge cheers but from the crowd but it's all coming back together.
The peloton is just 35 seconds behind now.
This race is about to explode.
The Dutch riders have made several digs but have so far not shown their real strength.
Ruox is still pounding away at the front.
This race could still go either way.
Great Britain has done most of the work. The other teams could now attack hard but Italy could also paly the Bennati card and go for the sprint.
This could still work out for Cavendish but he might be alone in the sprint.
Roux is in sight of the peloton now.
Millar is again leading the chase, with his hands hanging over the bars in TT mode.
The attacks could cancel each other out inthe final 20km and set up a big bunch sprint.
It's time to pick your favourite for the sprint.
O la la. Voeckler goes on the attack.
He passes Roux and taps him on the shoulder.
Behind Great Britain is still on the front, steam rolling the competition.
Niki Soresen is there for Denmark,
Behind Australia are also helping GB wih the chase. Are they going to play the Matt Goss card? Ca nhe beat Cavendish?
The front trio includes Klaas Lodewyck (Belgium).
The riders are into the finishing straight. One lap to go.
The Brits are still leading the chase.
After 5:23 of racing, this is it. One lap to go and the gap is 18 seconds to the peloton, with Wiggins leading the peloton.
Everyone is hurting now. But can GB control even more attacks? They seem to have the numbers.
They still have four riders leading Cavendish.
If Cavendish goes on to win, and it's a big if, then this will be one of the greatest ever team perfomances in a world championships.
Millar is still on the front, with Wiggins. Norway also helping now. They working for Boasson Hagen.
It's surely up to Gilbert to attack now. Most other nations are now thinking of a sprint finish.
Unless Gilbert thinks he has a chance on the rising finish.
Johnny Hoogerland (Netherlands) has jumped away on the middle of the last lap.
Can help the move stay away?
There are four riders up front now.
Wiggins is dragging the bunch up the road.
The gap is coming down.
The bunch can see them now.
Hoogerland and Voeckler go for it now.
Great Britain might not have anyone left for the sprint but Cavendish could get onto the Italian train and still win. He is easily fast enough.
Voeckler goes again. Allez!!!
But he's faded and it's all together.
Wiggins is still riding tempo as the other wait for the sprint.
GB has Stannard too for another long pull.
Could Cancellara try and take a flyer?
Here comes Italy.
But GB close the door on them.
Spain also have a lead out train.
Wiggins is giving his last bit of energy and swings over.
Australia have four riders on the front.
Italy just behind them as Cavendish needs Stannard to help him find a good position.
Australia riding for Baden Cooke.
Hayman, O'Grady up there too.
Phinney brings up Farrar for the USA.
Germany now on the front.
Italy and Germany seem to have the lead out under control.
As Australia come back.
GB working on the front, Cav is behind Australia.
Last corner. Here we go.
Australia lead it out.
He seemed blocked behind but found a gap to get through.
That is an incredible ride by the Great Britain team and Cavendish.
It seems Matt Goss got second.
It seems Cancellara got third ahead of Greipel.
A photo finish between Cancellara and Greipel. it is very close.
Wow. what an thrilling finish.
Cavendish seemed blocked on the right but Goss left a gap and Cavendish sprinted through to win.
Cavendish rightly praised his Great Brtiain teammates. He wanted to share the victory with them after all their hard work.
In provisional results Greipel has been given third place.
Cancellara is fourth, Jurgen Roelandts (Belgium) fifth and Romain Feillu (France) sixth. Borut Bozic (Slovenia) seventh and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) eighth.
This really was a sprinters' world championships.
Cavendish climbs on the podium and is awarded the rainbow jersey by UCI President Pat McQuaid.
Please arise for the national anthem of Great Britain.
Cavendish is singing but is close to tears.
He rightly kisses the jersey. He is the first men's British road race champion since Tom Simpson in 1965.
That is about it for today's live coverage.
As Cavendish gets a kiss from hid girlfriend and a big hug from Team GB manager Dave Brailsford, we'll say goodbye. There will be a full report, results, photo gallery and interviews very shortly on Cyclingnews.