The World Championships course in Geelong, Australia, was simply too tough for Mark Cavendish, according to winner Thor Hushovd.
“Mark is just a pure sprinter. He is the fastest sprinter in the world when it is flat and not hard; my victories come when there is a climb in the end,” said Hushovd. “I am more of a classics rider, who can pass the climbs and then win, like today.”
Norway’s Hushovd won the race ahead of Denmark’s Matti Breschel and Australia’s Allan Davis. He was part of a chase group that caught the attacking riders, like defending champion Cadel Evans and Belgian Philippe Gilbert, in the final two kilometres.
The course, though, was a bit of an unknown.
“We heard in June that it was a sprinters’ race, but when I saw the course I was quite surprised how hard it was, one for the climbers,” said Hushovd. “We then saw how the under-23 riders were racing and we thought, maybe it is a sprinters’ course.”
The World Championships started in Melbourne this morning and travelled to Geelong. In Geelong, the riders faced 11 laps of a 15.9-kilometre circuit. Great Britain’s star Mark Cavendish abandoned with Jeremy Hunt near the team’s hotel along the waterfront, reportedly in the eighth lap. Brit David Millar finished the eighth lap, but then quit.
How could a sprinter who beats Thor Hushovd regularly not do so today?
“It was too hard for him, it was a real punchy, hard, grind-it-out type of course,” said Britain’s performance director, David Brailsford of Cavendish. “He did not have the legs today. Thor does well on these courses, we have seen it before and Mark is more of a pure sprinter.”
Sprinter Tyler Farrar of the USA also did not contest the finish today. Next year’s World Championships in Copenhagen suits pure sprinters, though. Cavendish will want a full nine-man roster, not the three-man team today, but he will need ensure he scores points early in the year to make sure Great Britain is near the top of the national rankings while hoping his compatriots also gather qualification points in UCI World Tour races.
“Next year it is vitally important that we get more numbers,” said Brailsford. “The course [in Copenhagen] definitely suits Mark, is more of a sprinters course.”
Cavendish travels from Geelong on Tuesday to join Isle of Man’s team at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.