Number 1: Team GB at the men’s road race world championships
Copenhagen, Denmark – September
Mark Cavendish got the gold medal and rainbow jersey but behind him were seven riders who battered the rest of the world into submission.
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Steve Cummings, Chris Froome, Jeremy Hunt, David Millar, Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas and Bradley Wiggins.
Step forward and take a bow, all of you, because you won it for Britain.
There can be no doubt that it was the strongest line-up Great Britain has ever fielded at the Worlds. In fact, it was one of the most impressive team performances ever seen. The Italians did something similar for Mario Cipollini at Zolder in 2002 but you have to remember that was in the days when the big nations had 12-man teams.
Great Britain’s boys in red, white and blue took up the pace-setting very early in the race. Dangerously early. If it had unravelled at the end, they’d have risked looking foolish because the way they took the race on showed they expected to win.
There were a few quick-witted armchair pundits who suggested that the Italians and the Belgians must’ve been sniggering up their sleeves as the British got to work so early.
But they sustained it to the very end. Froome and Cummings did a huge amount of work early in the race. A fortnight after finishing as runner-up at the Vuelta a Espana, Froome was prepared to turn himself inside out for someone else. At one point the Germans were even telling him to calm the pace down a bit.
Jeremy Hunt rode by Cavendish’s side most of the day. Their strategy was clever. They sat up each time the bunch hit the hill and drifted back through the bunch, saving Cavendish’s legs, before Hunt then paced him to the front again.
What can be said about Bradley Wiggins’ selfless turn of speed on the last lap that hasn’t already been said?
Stannard, Millar and Thomas were still there at the end to contribute to getting Cavendish into the right position, proving just how in control the team was. They fought the scraps for him, allowing the Manxman to save little drips of energy here and there for the sprint.
All in all, it was a supreme display of team work by a committed group of professional riders. It wasn’t just the best British performance of the year, it was the best British performance of all time.
British Performances of 2011