Mark Cavendish will be backed by a strong Great Britain team in the elite men’s road race at this year’s World Championships in Qatar. The 2011 champion will lead the team as he hunts his second rainbow jersey on the road with Adam Blythe, Stephen Cummings, Alex Dowsett, Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas among his support.
“I’m confident about the World Championships. If I was riding alone I’d have a chance of winning but with the Great Britain squad that’s been named, I’ve got the best team in world, just like in Copenhagen when I won the world title,” Cavendish said after finishing second in the sprint on stage two of the Giro della Toscana.
Cavendish is using the series of Italian races to polish his form for the World Championships. He knows the heat and risk of cross winds will also be a factor in Qatar but is convinced he is suited to the heat of the Gulf after twice winning the Tour of Qatar, most recently this year.
“It’ll be hot, like the hot days at the Tour de France. I’m not heavy like the others and so don’t suffer too much in the heat. I’m sure it’ll be a sprint finish. I think it’ll be the riders who are strong and fast but also the riders who can handle the heat and the wind.”
In women’s team Lizzie Deignan (nee Armitstead) will look to defend the title she won twelve months ago. Alice and Hannah Barnes have been named within the nine-rider team.
Iain Dyer, head coach for British Cycling, said: “The depth of talent available to us on the road this year has been exceptional and I believe we have picked strong squads for all the races we are entering. In the men’s race, Mark heads to Doha as one of the clear favourites given the nature of the course and he will have a strong team around him.
“In the women’s squad, we’ve got some real high-calibre contenders with a couple of riders having the capability to be competitive in a sprint finish scenario. I’m really pleased to see a number of under-23 category riders selected for this squad too, I think they will benefit from the experience of riding alongside elite riders.”
In the last few months, men’s road coach Rod Ellingworth, has reduced the long-list from the original 14 to the nine selected for Doha.
Ellingworth – the brains behind Project Rainbow when Cavendish won in 2011 – has picked a team that, though entirely there to support Cavendish, also has depth and class to it.
Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe, Adam Blythe, and Geraint Thomas all have experience at riding in crosswinds, while Ben Swift, Scott Thwaites, and Dan McLay all have the potential to lead Cavendish out in a sprint. Steve Cummings, who crashed out the Giro della Toscana, can perform a number of roles and brings with him the ability to infiltrate early break.
Deignan, who won the women’s road race in 2015, is expected to form part of the Boels Dolmans team time trial squad before turning her attention to the road race.