Dan Fleeman has tipped Mark Cavendish as the favourite to win this weekend’s Olympic test event in London, but said that he and his Raleigh team will be looking to animate the race.
Sunday’s race will see a number of national teams from Australia, GB, Germany, Italy, France, and Australia take part in a dress rehearsal for next year’s London Olympic Games road race. For the British domestic teams like Raleigh it will be a rare opportunity to test themselves against the likes of Cavendish, Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel, Tyler Farrar and Heinrich Haussler.
“It’s something quite special to say you’ve been part of. Obviously to be able to preview the Olympic course in your own country, not everyone is going to get that opportunity, so I’m looking forward to it,” Fleeman told Cyclingnews.
“It’s a really high level field and it’s almost like a ProTour race. It’s a shorter distance but there are certainly some very good riders there and some of those guys come to the race having done the Tour de France so it’s going to tough but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
“Daniel Lloyd used to live up near there and I went training with him there a few times. We stopped at the top and had scones and jam, I can’t really see that happening on Sunday, but in the Olympic race next year they go up it nine times and that’s going to cause problems but in the test event they’ll only do it twice.”
Fleeman, who has raced with Raleigh for the last two seasons and with Cervelo TestTeam in 2009 is considering his options for next year after a strong season. Domestically he has competed in a number of Premier Calendar races, picking up top 10 places in each event he has raced in. However his standout performance came on Canadian soil when he finished eighth overall at the Tour de Beauce.
This weekend’s Olympic test event lacks the hilly terrain Fleeman tends to excel in, leading him to suggest that a large group could compete in a sprint.
“I don’t think that’s going to cause Cavendish too much trouble. He can climb pretty well and if he can get over the Poggio after 300km and win Milan-San Remo then he can handle Box Hill,” Fleeman told Cyclingnews.
“It’s going to be difficult to control with five-man teams but he’s a class rider. People think in this country that Cavendish can’t climb but he can climb pretty well. I don’t think it’s going to be a bunch sprint with over 100 guys but I think it will be large group at the end and if he’s there then he’s the favourite. There are other guys that good too, like Boonen though.”
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