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New World Champion Mark Cavendish
Sep 26th, 11. Mark Cavendish delivered the rainbow rings for Great Britain after their "three year plan" came together perfectly at the World Championships today.
After a fast 266km race, with Great Britain spending the majority of the day controlling the peloton to reel in the break, Cavendish was ready for the biggest sprint of his career to date.
In the final few kilometres it looked like the team had faded from the front, but the Manxman found a way through the sea of opponents.
He was challenged by HTC Highroad teammate Matthew Goss in the final metres, but was able to hold the Australian off to take his first ever world road title.
"I'm really proud," said Cavendish after the race. "This has been a three year project for us. Ever since the course was announced we have been preparing for this."
"Not just me but all the guys who rode so well today and others committed to making sure we qualify a good team," he said in reference to their eight man roster compared to just three at last year's World Championships.
Along with Germany, Great Britain was on the front of the peloton for most of the day. They resisted the temptation to put a rider up the road in a break and stuck to the plan to control the race and deliver a sprint finale.
The original break, plus additional riders who bridged along the way, got out to 8min lead before the time gap started to be reeled in. As expected, as soon as the merger looked inevitable more attacks came from the peloton to challenge Great Britain's staying power.
Tour de France hero Thomas Voekler (France) joined local hero Nikki Sorensen (Denmark) plus Klass Lodewyck (Belgium) in a bold attack. As they heard the bell for the final lap they were 18sec ahead of the bunch. Jonny Hoogerland (The Netherlands) showed he had recovered from his car vs bike crash in the Tour de France when he bridged to the leading trio.
It was Bradley Wiggins' fantastic time trialling skills which brought them back with 12km left to ride. He then faded away leaving the final lead out role to Great Britain's Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas.
The Australian and German teams took over at the the head of the peloton, but Thomas brought his man up and delivered him ready for the sprint.
Cavendish took the wheel of Lars Boom (The Netherlands), then launched himself to the line. Goss followed but it was Cavendish who raised his arms in victory.
"I had two goals this year, the Green Jersey in the Tour de France, and the Rainbow Jersey, and next year I am going for the Olympics," said Cavendish.
"I have won the Green Jersey in the Tour de France and won Milan-San Remo, but this jersey signifies the greatest thing I can get, really, I get to ride with the Rainbow bands all next year and to wear them on the sleeves for the rest of my life.
"Since I was 19 I have dreamed of becoming World Champion, and my victory today is a result of a very good teamwork."
Cavendish is yet to announce which team he will ride for in 2012, but most believe it will be British team, Team Sky.
In a photo finish, Andre Greipel (Germany) took the bronze medal ahead of Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland). Defending World Champion Thor Hushovd and the three man New Zealand team were all caught behind a crash after 180km and were unable to contest the finish. (Read .. Kiwis' Worlds foiled by crash)
"These were one of most successful championships we have had in recent years. The crowds today were the evidence: 250.000 on a beautiful day. We had a beautiful race with unpredictably last five or six laps. A beautiful race with a beautiful winner," said Pat McQuaid, president of the UCI, minutes after the men's road race.
UCI World Road Championships
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