Elite Men Road Race: Glasgow
Many of the best European professional riders clash in Sunday's UEC European Championships Road Race in Glasgow, fighting for the distinctive white, blue and gold-starred jersey that can be worn for 12-months. This is the third edition of the European Championships and both previous winners Peter Sagan (Slovakia) and Alexander Kristoff (Norway) are chasing a second success.
The men's road race course is identical to the Glasgow circuit used for the 2013 British National Championships road race, which was won by Cavendish, and was used again the following year for the Commonwealth Games road race. Cavendish is absent due to doctor's orders as he continues his return to racing after a crash and injury-hit first part of the season.
The undulating 14.4-kilometre-long lap, while perhaps not suited to out-and-out sprinters, should see the likes of Sagan, Belgium's Greg Van Avermaet, and Germany's John Degenkolb thrive, with a reduced bunch sprint – as was the case was in the women's event last Sunday – a likely outcome.
Alexander Kristoff is a sprinter who's more than capable of getting over smaller climbs with the best, and the Norwegian comes to the race off the back of having won the final stage of the Tour de France on the Champs-Elysées – the so-called 'unofficial sprinters' world championships'.
Sagan, meanwhile, hasn't worn a trade team jersey in a road race since June 2011, having worn either a Slovakian national champion's jersey or a world champion's jersey for the past seven years. A European champion's jersey would be a welcome prize for him, as it will be a tough ask for Sagan to defend his Worlds title on a mountainous course in Innsbruck, Austria, in late September.
And don't underestimate the allure of a champion's jersey. Even Chris Froome has in the past stated his desire to wear the rainbow stripes, and may get his chance in Innsbruck later next month, but the Briton won't be a starter in Glasgow this Sunday.
Recent Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas isn't in Glasgow, either – too tied up, no doubt, with post-tour events and celebrations – although he would have had a great opportunity to race in front of a home crowd, and on the course where he won the 2014 Commonwealth Games road race title.
With no Cavendish and no Thomas, home fans will nevertheless be happy to cheer on Adam Blythe, Ben Swift and Scott Thwaites, who must all be in with a very good chance of standing on the podium come Sunday evening, with Thwaites having finished third behind Thomas and New Zealand's Jack Bauer on this course four years ago at the Commonwealth Games.
Other names to look out for during the 230km event are Italy's Sonny Colbrelli and Latvia's Toms Skujins.
The climb of St Vincent Street on each of the 16 laps, while tough, shouldn't unduly bother the likes of three-time world champion Sagan. Sunday provides an opportunity for the fast men and Classics hunters to take a championship jersey, as this year it will be the climbers who'll get their chance at the Worlds in Austria in late September.
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