LONDON 2012: British Cycling confirms Cavendish's support crew for Olympic road race
BRITISH Cycling has named the five-strong team they hope will propel Mark Cavendish to Olympic road race gold on the opening day of the London 2012 Olympics.
World champion Cavendish was part of an eight-strong team when he won the rainbow jersey in Copenhagen last year.
However, the smaller Olympic field means he will have just four riders to support him in London.
As expected Bradley Wiggins and David Millar will be alongside him, as will Ian Stannard and Chris Froome, who both put in impressive shifts in Cavendish's cause in Denmark last September.
It means there is no Olympic place for Steve Cummings, Jeremy Hunt and Ben Swift, who were named in the initial eight-strong squad last month.
“The final selection for the men’s road race was a tough choice as we had a really strong squad of riders to pick from," said Team GB cycling team leader Dave Brailsford.
"We have selected the five riders who we believe are on the best form and will give us the fastest team for the race.
"All the riders selected have a gruelling few weeks coming up, with Ian due to ride in the Tour of Poland and the rest of the lads riding in the Tour de France, so we’ll be keeping an eye on injury and form but for now, I am confident that we have picked the best team for the race.”
However, maintaining race discipline and setting Cavendish up for a sprint finish on The Mall won't be easy.
The world champion won last year's test event but that was over a shortened course, with only two loops rather than nine of Box Hill in Surrey, the most gruelling element of the course.
"The course looks challenging – the laps around Box Hill are going to be hard and will make the race interesting. We’ll be there with Cav to support him and it should be a really good course for us," said Froome.
"It’s huge to compete at home – the British support out here at the Tour de France has been amazing and I can only imagine it'll be even bigger at home. If it’s anything like the test event, it will be a big spectacle for the public to come and watch.”
Wiggins, whose Olympic focus is the time trial alongside Millar, insists he is happy to work as a domestique to Cavendish, even though he hopes to roll off the line in London as the new Tour de France champion.
“I’m happy to be a part of it, we’ve got a good chance to win the road race with Cav and it’s a London Olympics which makes it very special," he said.
"I’ve also got a chance to go for my fourth gold medal in the time trial.”
© Sportsbeat 2012