Great Britain coach Rod Ellingworth was keen to draw the positives from his team's performance in the World Championship road race in Mendrisio, Switzerland, on Sunday, despite the fact that only two British riders made it to the end of the gruelling 262km course.
Fresh from his first ever Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España, Roger Hammond finished in 92nd position, nearly 11 minutes behind winner Cadel Evans (Australia). Steve Cummings's 52nd-place, just over five minutes behind Evans, barely did justice to a strong display by the Barloworld rider.
Ellingworth and his team had gone into the race with high hopes, particularly for David Millar. The Scot ended up pulling out with five laps to go, admitting later that he simply didn't have the legs to hit his pre-race target of a top-20 finish. Like the rest of the British team, Millar was hampered by bad luck.
"Dave broke his gear lever, and he had a puncture," Ellingworth said. "Chris Froome lost a lot of energy trying to bring Dave back, and unfortunately, Dave just didn't have the legs today. Ian Stannard was also unlucky: he had a tyre roll off his wheel and crashed."
Ellingworth said that he was most encouraged by his riders' attitude, in spite of their many misfortunes.
"The absolutely great thing was that they were all buzzing when they got off the bike. They loved the way we worked together as a team. That's massive," he effused. "The plan was for Steve Cummings to bring Dave [Millar] into the last two laps and launch him there. It's just unfortunate that Dave didn't have his best legs on the day. We did what we could to execute the plan, and you can't moan if all of the guys have given it a good shot. It was incredibly tough out there."
Ellingworth hopes to put together an even stronger British team for next year's worlds in Geelong, Australia. Early indications are that a relatively flat course will suit Ellingworth's protégé, Mark Cavendish.
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