Great Britain team leader Mark Cavendish hopes to have enough in the tank to win the World Championships road race after illness hampered his build up
The 2011 world champion will lead the British team on the hot desert roads around Doha tomorrow. He is considered one of the favourites with German André Greipel, Belgian Tom Boonen and 2015 champion, Slovakian Peter Sagan.
Cavendish suffered stomach problems after the Tour of Britain and missed around six days of riding and two lead-up races. The problem seems to have passed considering his sixth place in Paris-Tours on Sunday.
“I hope I have the power to win,” Cavendish said. “I was four days in bed, five or six days without training, three weeks before the worlds, that is far from ideal.
“Before I got ill, I had more confidence than before Copenhagen [the 2011 Worlds], not only because of my form, but because the strength of the team.”
Cavendish is leading the team with strong sprinters Adam Blythe, Scott Thwaites, Ben Swift and Dan McLay. Race coach Rod Ellingworth said that Great Britain has other “things up their sleeve” if needed. Cavendish can also rely on workhorses Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas and Steve Cummings in the open desert stretches and closing Pearl circuits.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in my chances to win,” added Cavendish. “I also believe we have the strongest team here.”
He is a regular visitor to the petroleum-rich peninsula. This year he won the Tour of Qatar overall and in his palmarès, he counts nine stages wins from the race.
This year’s worlds covers 257.5 kilometres. The first 150 kilometres travels north and back south to Doha over the exposed and barren desert roads. The race could easily break into echelons depending how the cyclists race and on the wind, which is predicted from the north/northwest 11 to 20kph.
The remainder is on the artificial Pearl island that cost around £12 billion to build. They will race seven 15.2-kilometre circuits through the maze-like streets shadowed by skyscrapers.
“If the wind blows there will be echelons but it will all come together for the last few laps of the Pearl,” Cavendish told the Press Association.
“It’s all about positioning, really, and how much effort you make before you get to that last lap. That’s why guys like Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard will be key – they are so good at controlling races like this.”
Cavendish enjoyed one of his best seasons this year. He won four Tour de France stages, including the first one that allowed him to wear the yellow jersey for one day. In the Olympics, he took the silver medal in the Omnium.