British sprint star, Mark Cavendish admitted that chances are slim that he will win the World Championship road race title on Sunday in Geelong, Australia, but refuses to rule himself out.
“I do not think I am going in to win the World Championships, but there is a possibility I can win the World Championships,” Cavendish said on Thursday.
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“In Mendrisio and Varese, there was a zero per cent chance I could win the World Championships. Here, I am not a favourite, it is a hard course, but there is a possibility that it could come to a bunch sprint.
“Whether it is a two per cent chance or a 90 per cent chance, there is a chance that I can win the World Championships, so I will give it a go.”
The World Championships this year covers two climbs in its 15.9 kilometre circuit, repeated 11 times. The first climb to the Ridge has surprised some on first inspection and it was the reason that some teams fielded attacking riders instead of sprinters.
Belgian television RTBF published an article on its website three days about Cavendish. According to the article, he said to press that “the course is certainly too difficult for me” after seeing the climb first-hand and that it forced him to “revise his ambitions.”
“No. I never said that. Everything they said was complete bulls**t,” he said before starting a training ride with Jeremy Hunt, Nicholas Roche and Bernhard Eisel.
“I was not surprised at all. Everything is exactly how it looked [on the map beforehand], it is just that the new bridge makes a massive difference. It really slows down the run in to the second climb. That is the only thing different than what I had seen.”
Regardless, Cavendish will have a harder time than favourites Italian Filippo Pozzato and Belgian Philippe Gilbert on the climbs. He is better suited to flat, rolling roads similar to the ones that allowed him to win five stages at the Tour de France this year. He is also at a disadvantage because he only has two team-mates, Hunt and David Millar, due to UCI rules based on national rankings.
“We know at the end of the day we are at a disadvantage,” said Cavendish, “we just have to do our best.”
Cavendish explained that Millar and Hunt will go into action in the final stages of the race if there is a chance of a sprint finish, but until then they will leave it up to the bigger teams to control.
He thought about Geelong and its climbs some more and smiled.
“It is a like a lot of the climbs I grew up with on the Isle of Man,” he said. “Even if on the Isle of Man it is a bit wetter.”
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