Philippe Gilbert summed up the Men’s Olympic Road Race by saying it’s everyone against Cavendish. Tru dat.
Whether you’re talking about Belgium or Italy or Spain or even the United States, everyone knows that Cavendish will win the sprint with shocking ease should he make it over Box Hill nine times.
The trouble for the rest of the world is that the Manx Missile will make it over Box Hill even if it was ten or twelve times. He’s built his training around this race, dropped a significant amount of weight, changed his diet and he’s “all in” for London. Her Majesty expects no less and the Queen will be watching closing.
Cav has had the full benefit of the Team Sky sports science program and we know how well that worked in the Tour de France for Bradley Wiggins. The stock phrase at Sky was “we’ve trained for that.” There was no scenario they hadn’t planned for and the same goes for the Olympic Road race.
We should all keep in mind what Cavendish and his British team did in the World Road Race last year. While he has half the teammates for the Olympics, the blueprint is the same. Sure, it will be harder to control the race with less firepower but with Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, Ian Stannard and Chris Froome, it’s a “dream team” to quote Cav himself.
There’s been talk from several quarters — including riders like Vincenzo Nibali and American champion Timmy Duggan — that the race may not end in a sprint. Duggan calls the course “dynamic” — meaning something could happen anytime, anywhere on the road. And there’s no race radio to solve a crisis if things go crazy.
Still, we think Gilbert has it right and then the only question is whether an alliance will form between teams like Spain and Italy and Belgium to make the race harder. Alliances always get talked about and yet from our perspective those arrangements don’t happen that often.
The rest of the road racing world needs to band together if they want an Olympic medal but you have to put your money on Mr. Rainbow, Member of the British Empire, Fastest Man on Two Wheels, Team Sky’s small mountains domestique Mark Cavendish.
Cavendish knows that Box Hill isn’t exactly an hors categorie climb. “Box Hill? We are not talking about an Alpine pass, we are talking about nine five-minute efforts followed by 15 minutes, but if I didn’t have a team here I couldn’t get over,” Cavendish said. “It will need four of the strongest riders in the world to get me over and luckily I have got them.”
Box Hill is a done deal. We’ll see if the Non-Brits can ride together. If not, daddy brings home a shiny Olympic gold medal for little Delilah.