After all the Olympic success, Great Britain?s cyclists head to Varese for the World Championships with genuine hope of securing some medals, and putting up strong performances across the board.
Britain could feasibly win medals in the under-23 road race, both women’s events and the men’s elite time trial. The revolution in British cycling may not be complete, yet, but the success on the track is beginning to transfer to the road.
If Jonny Bellis?s bronze medal in the under-23 road race last year was a welcome surprise, this year the young riders go into the event as one of the strongest teams in the field. Ben Swift and Peter Kennaugh have both enjoyed continued success this season and Katyusha-bound Swift, in particular, can go into Friday?s race with his tail up following second place in the Giro del Canavese on Sunday.
And there is the possibility of medals in both women?s events. Nicole Cooke will dream of completing a remarkable Olympic Games and World Championship double. There is nothing to say the 25-year-old cannot do it, either. She lives just an hour?s ride from the Varese circuit, over the border in Switzerland, and will know the circuit well.
Like the under-23 men, the strength is not confined to just one or two riders, but it goes right the way through the team.
In choosing not to ride the time trial, Cooke makes way for Pooley and Laws. Many may be surprised to hear women?s team coach Julian Winn talking up the chances of both riders making the podium but on current form, why not? Like Cooke, Pooley and Laws all finished in the top six of the Tour of the Ardeche recently.
The elite men?s road race is the blue riband event and British fans hope that one day there will be a genuine contender for the rainbow jersey. That could happen in the near future if the championship courses at Melbourne in 2010 and Copenhagen in 2011 are to Mark Cavendish?s liking.
For only the second time in more than a decade, Britain has six riders in the elite road race and, unlike in Madrid in 2005, there is not the prospect of a third of the team defying team orders.
While it is true there is not a rainbow jersey winner in the ranks, there is a chance of a good showing from Steve Cummings, who is in great form after the Tour of Britain.
It will also be a first appearance in Great Britain colours for Kenyan-born Chris Froome. The Barloworld rider finished the Tour de France and only IOC red tape barred him from completing his switch of nationalities in time to compete in the Olympics.
In Thursday?s elite men?s time trial, the field is wide open again. David Millar, stripped of his 2003 world time trial title after admitting using EPO, would dearly love to win clean, and his chances of doing so improved after Fabian Cancellara?s withdrawal. However, Millar will need to produce a superb ride.
Men’s under-23 time trial Alex Dowsett, Russell Hampton
Women’s time trial Sharon Laws, Emma Pooley
Men’s time trial Steve Cummings, David Millar
Men’s under-23 road race Jonny Bellis, Alex Dowsett, Peter Kennaugh, Jonny McEvoy, Ben Swift
Women’s road race Jessica Allen, Lizzie Armitstead, Nicole Cooke, Sharon Laws, Emma Pooley
Men’s road race Steve Cummings, Russell Downing, Chris Froome, David Millar, Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas
BRITAIN’S MEDAL HOPES
Rating the British chances of a medal. Five dots means nailed on for at least bronze, one dot means, good outside hopes.
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Nicole Cooke in the women’s road race
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The under-23s in the road race ? Ben Swift, Peter Kennaugh and Jonny Bellis are the candidates, with Swift the man in form
Emma Pooley in the women’s time trial
Sharon Laws in the women’s time trial
David Millar in the men’s time trial
Either Pooley or Laws in the road race
|ROAD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2008|
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British team heads to Varese with genuine medal hopes
Cancellara to miss World Championships
Swift a close second in final race before Worlds
Rob Hayles on why he’s not riding the Worlds
GB Women’s Worlds team confirmed
British Worlds team starts to take shape
Geraint Thomas called up to Worlds team to replace Cavendish
Mark Cavendish pulls out of Worlds team
Cycling Weekly news section
2008 WORLD CHAMPS GUIDE
TV coverage guide>>
Brits in the men’s world road race 1998-2007>>
Brits in the women’s world road race 1998-2007>>
Brits in the under-23 world road race 1998-2007>>
Britain’s road world championships medal winners>>