Every rider in Britain can take inspiration from Mark Cavendish’s fantastic Milan-San Remo victory. He defied all odds with his last-gasp effort that saw him overtake Heinrich Haussler on the finish line.
The German looked like he had it in the bag, four lengths clear with only metres left to ride. Then Cav jumped. His acceleration was incredible; he closed the gap, got the wheel and dived through on the left for the line.
This was a masterclass from the young Manxman and the day he silenced his critics for good. He disproved the doubters who said he couldn’t climb first on the Cipressa and then in the closing stages on the Poggio. And anyone who thought that almost 300km, or a little under seven hours in the saddle, would blunt his speed needs to seriously reassess their opinion.
“When you win sprints you prove you’re a great sprinter, but when you win a great one-day race you’ve proved you’re a great rider,” Cav said. “I wanted to prove I’m a great rider and that’s what I did today.”
He certainly has. And what a Classics debut it was; few riders have ever won San Remo at their first attempt and it ended a four-decade wait for a major British road victory.
This week expect more success when Cav goes for gold in the Madison and scratch race at the track World Championships in Poland. Three wins within a week. There’s no harm in believing.
Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly magazine