We sent text messages to a whole bunch of people whose opinions we valued, asking them who they thought would win the National Championship road race. Twenty six replied. Here?s what they said? Presumably those who didn’t answer didn’t understand the question.

Mark Cavendish ? High Road rider
It?s never possible to predict the British nationals!

Simon Richardson ? Plowman Craven rider
I reckon Roger Hammond could be the man

John Herety ? Rapha-Condor-Recycling manager
Kristian House

Julian Winn ? Halfords Bikehut and Great Britain women?s team directeur sportif
Tough one. I?ll say Jonny Bellis. I like the look of him

Dean Downing ? Rapha-Condor-Recycling rider
Mark Cavendish

Rob Hayles ? Halfords Bikehut rider
I?d love to win it. I?m going to try to win it. I?ve been second before and I?d love to go one better. It wouldn?t surprise me if Hamish Haynes came back and showed himself again. I?d like to say Cav [Mark Cavendish] but I don?t know if he?s prepared to ride in the way he?d need to ride in order to win. It?s not a traditional pro race

Dan Fleeman ? An Post rider
I?d love to win. Failing that, I?d love to see my team-mate Dan Lloyd win ? as long as he nominates me in this!

Dan Lloyd ? An Post rider
Myself! If not, then Jeremy Hunt. He?s just shown good form in Holland in the prologue and the road stages [the Delta Tour Zeeland]. He?s experienced, strong and has a good finish and the form

Phil Griffiths ? Pinarello team manager
Russell Downing ? we didn?t go to race in Norway for nothing. My second choice would be Malc [Elliott]. He?s just getting going. Both will receive really good team support

Matt Stephens ? Sigma Sport rider
David Millar to retain his title

Russell Downing ? Pinarello rider, 2005 champion, current Premier Calendar leader
I hope me, of course, but if you need the name of someone else ? Cav

Michael Hutchinson ? time trialling legend and CW columnist
Ian Stannard

Steve Cummings ? Barloworld rider, not competing this weekend
Dan Lloyd

Dave Brailsford ? British Cycling?s performance director
David Millar. He?s worn the jersey with pride this year and will want to defend it

Doug Dailey ? British Cycling?s logistics mastermind
Mark Cavendish

Chris Hoy ? track legend
I haven?t a clue! I really don?t follow road cycling these days!

Rod Ellingworth British Cycling?s academy coach
Roger Hammond

Ian Stannard – Landbouwkrediet rider
A European-based rider, I think, because the distance is a little bit longer than most UK races or what the Academy riders do. However, Russell Downing is going well and he?s gutsy. I think maybe Dan Lloyd could win. He?s good but is maybe a little under-estimated.

Andy Nicolson ? BBC Sport online?s cycling correspondent
Mark Cavendish

Simon Richardson ? Cycling Weekly deputy editor
Mark Cavendish

Edward Pickering ? Cycle Sport deputy editor
Mark Cavendish

Dave Harmon ? Eurosport commentator
Top three: Jeremy Hunt, Russell Downing, Dan Lloyd

Bradley Wiggins ? multiple world champion
David Millar

Ian Cleverly ? Cycling Weekly reporter
Russell Downing. Injuring his hand in Norway may have set Downing back temporarily but you can?t keep a good man down. He will be back on top by the end of the month. The lumpy course and long uphill finish will suit him down to the ground.

Lionel Birnie ? Cycling Weekly reporter
Roger Hammond

Any Questions Answered
What a marvellous world it is. You can text any question to 63336 and you?ll get an answer. We asked who would win the Nationals. ?David Millar will retain his title ahead of Dean and Russell Downing,? it said.

By the scientific means of adding up, that makes Mark Cavendish the favourite.

The Big Preview: British National Championships 2008