With a little bit of help from David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) and his team mate Andy Fenn, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) outsprinted Ian Stannard (Sky) and Millar to win the 2013 road race title in front of a big crowd on Glasgow Green.
On a circuit which one team manager accurately described as “80 per cent kermesse and 20 per cent Flanders,” an ultra-selective selection of six riders (two and four) went clear in the opening 13 miles of racing, eventually joining up to make a sextet that was never going to be caught.
The six were originally early attacking duo Stannard and Fenn who were joined by Cavendish, Millar, Pete Kennaugh and Ben Swift (both Sky). Astonishingly, it took a little time for the rest of the 141 rider field to realise what was happening, by which point, the race pattern had been set.
To be fair a group of five other chasers, Ian Wilkinson (UK Youth), Kristian House (Rapha JLT), Scott Thwaites (NettApp-Endura), Luke Rowe (Sky) and Simon Yates (100% ME) made an effort to bridge the minute and a half gap to the lead group at half distance and got within 40 seconds.
“We could see them on some parts of the course, we put in two hard laps, but when they realised we were closing that was it,” said new Under-23 champion Yates who eventually finished eighth. “We decided to put in two really hard laps to close the gap and we nearly did it, but when they realised we were closing they picked up the pace and that was it, we were done.”
That left the six WorldTour riders and pre-race favourites to decide who would get to wear the red white and blue national champion’s jersey for a year. Young Fenn was the first to be dropped – though the Scot will have been pleased by his performance, while Swift was next to fold on a surprisingly tough parcours.
Cavendish had come to Glasgow with the firm intention of winning, rather than merely checking out the 2014 Commonwealth Games circuit, though he disingenuously suggested that team manager Brian Holm had come over “because he just likes to be in Great Britain. He just wanted a little holiday.” The fact that it had been Holm’s son’s birthday the previous day obviously escaped the Manxman’s attention.
Reasonably enough under the circumstances, with two Sky riders (Stannard and Kennaugh) and two non-Sky riders (Cavendish and Millar) in the finale, chums Millar and Cavendish decided to form a non-aggression pact, with each looking after the other’s interests.
So when Millar attacked, dropping Kennaugh in the process, it was left to Stannard to chase down Millar. When Millar was caught – with less that two kilometres to go – Millar played his part and led out the Manxman to a comprehensive win over Stannard.
“My form’s good. I’m motivated at the minute, I’ve trained well because the TdF is coming up. It’s a bit unexpected that I won here – I was here 1) more as preparation for the Tour, to have one last hit out, and 2) to see the parcours for the Commonwealth Games next year.
“Normally Team Sky have so many riders, it would be difficult to win. I wasn’t really expecting it – we got a good group after about 20km, we rode well together and I’m happy. I had a bit of luck at the end, when Ian was left isolated,” said Cavendish later.
British Road Race Championships 2013: Glasgow, men’s road race,
1. Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) 184.6km in 4-27-09
2. Ian Stannard (Sky) at 0-02
3. David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) at 0-08
4. Peter Kennaugh (Sky) at 0-42
5. Luke Rowe (Sky) at 6-40
6. Kristian House (Rapha-Condor-JLT) at 11-50
7. Scott Thwaites (NetApp-Endura) at 11-52
8. Simon Yates (100% ME) at st
9. Ian Wilkinson (UK Youth) at 12-15
10. Yanto Barker (UK Youth) at 14-55
National championships on ITV4
Highlights of the National Road Race Championships will been shown as part of an hour-long programme that will also include the action from the time trials on ITV4.
Highlights: Monday June 24, 7pm, ITV4
Repeated: Tuesday, June 25, 12.55pm, ITV4
Crowds in Glasgow
Early leaders Ian Stannard and Andy Fenn
Peter Kennaugh, Ben Swift, David Millar and Mark Cavendish chase
Peter Kennaugh, David Millar, Ian Stannard and Mark Cavendish
Mark Cavendish wins
David Millar (third), Mark Cavendish (winner) and Ian Stannard (second)