Cavendish coping as pressure mounts
July 27, 2012 15:36 pm
Mark Cavendish will seek to claim Great Britain's first gold medal of the London 2012 Olympic Games on The Mall.
The 27-year-old world champion from the Isle of Man is aiming to continue the momentum of the Tour de France with success in the 250-kilometre road race on Saturday, which features nine ascents of Surrey's Box Hill, with rivals lauding him as "invincible" and the clear favourite.
Although he relishes the task in front of an anticipated roadside audience of one million, Cavendish knows it is far from a straightforward prospect and he will need the full support of his four team-mates, Tour winner Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, David Millar and Ian Stannard.
Cavendish, a winner of 23 Tour stages, said: "We're racing in a sport with infinite variables, whether it's luck or someone has a good day, you have a bad day. That's what makes cycling special. It's also what makes you nervous."
Cavendish refuses to even contemplate the prospect of glory, considering only the run-in to the finish in front of Buckingham Palace.
He said: "Sorry to say but it's not as romantic as it sounds. It's a straight, then a right-left, then a slight downhill, bearing left, wide finish."
If all goes to plan, Cavendish will unleash his trademark sprint after the peloton pass the Queen Victoria Memorial. But it will require a momentous effort, according to Millar, who has the responsibility of road captain, calling the tactical shots.
Millar said: "If it goes to plan it will be one of the biggest performances we've ever seen in road racing. It doesn't matter if we're catching people with 500 metres to go, as long as we're there with Mark to do that, so that he can do his sprint."
The 35-year-old, who describes himself as an "ex-doper", was named in the team after the British Olympic Association's lifetime ban on doping was overturned and is thrilled to be at his first Games since Sydney.
"I feel like I'm part of something special," he said. "It's the perfect storm, with Wiggo winning the Tour, Cav being Cav and us being here right now."
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