There are still several weeks to go until the official rosters for the UCI Road World Championships are announced but Great Britain road coach Rod Ellingworth has a deep pool to choose from as he looks to build a team around Mark Cavendish.
Project Rainbow mark 2 – the projected sequel to Cavendish's first road title in Copenhagen – takes places in Doha in October, over a pan-flat course well-suited to his speedy finish. Ellingworth – with Cavendish's vital input – is busily putting a team together and using the Tour of Britain to scout the eight riders who will support Cavendish.
And there's a flurry of riders in the mix with Adam Blythe, Ben Swift, Ian Stannard, Dan McLay, Luke Rowe, Geraint Thomas, Scott Thwaites, Alex Dowsett and Steve Cummings among the 14-man long list.
"The final selection is made around the end of September. Obviously in this process you're talking to the riders but with the Worlds at that time of the year, you need riders who are up for it and motivated," Ellingworth told Cyclingnews.
"That's a key element at the Worlds. It's hard for some to be motivated after such a long season so at the moment we're just talking to the riders. We've a lot of guys interested and there's a group of around 14 riders who are interested and have put themselves forward."
Ellingworth is the coach who masterminded Cavendish's win in 2011, and he has the task of creating a team that can defend and control the race if the cross-winds pick up, and then set about leading Cavendish out if there is a sprint.
"The one question is what the crosswinds are like and who can ride them. That's one element because there's no point taking someone who is really going to struggle with the conditions. If it all hits the fan then you want the best team there," he added.
Great Britain have not had a single top-10 finisher in the men's Worlds road race since Cavendish's triumph but Ellingworth is confident that the team can take home another rainbow jersey and the belief instilled in 2011 still remains with the squad.
"The intensity that we had building up to Copenhagen was intentional because that was the first year we were really able of putting a proper team together. The idea is that we've rolled on since then and we've moved that system on. Back then we didn't have belief because we hadn't won it in a long time so there was a real drive from that side. We had to get riders on side so that they believed we could win the Worlds. I think we can win this year again so it's a different preparation."
Building a Leadout
If Ellingworth will sacrifice a selection of his foot soldiers in order to protect Cavendish in the opening part of the race and keep a sprint finale possible he will need riders to lead Cavendish to the line.
"Mark needs to be key this," he said.
"The thing with Worlds is that it's never a straight forward leadout. Everyone wants the best result, while in a normal sprint race people will get out of the way. We saw that at Copenhagen. You can't really plan for this nice linear leadout."
"He has his idea but we just need to see how people are committing. There are a few guys out there that he's thinking about but I think that he just wants to see how they're racing."