The Great Britain men’s team’s hope of capturing the rainbow jersey at their home World Championships in Yorkshire has been dealt a blow as they will only have six riders on the start line instead of the maximum of eight.
All nations that were ranked in the UCI’s top-10 on Monday are able to enter eight riders to the road race. Great Britain had been occupying the 10th spot but fell down to 11th over the weekend.
Although the GB points total grew from 5,260 the previous week to 5,427 on Monday, mostly courtesy of Tao Geoghegan Hart’s fifth place on GC at the Tour of Poland, 11th place Denmark vaulted over them. The Danish surge was largely due to Michael Mørkøv’s fifth place at the European Championship road race on Sunday.
“For sure its less than ideal,” said British Cycling performance director Stephen Park. “We’d far rather start with eight than with six. Ultimately how influential it’ll be in the whole results will be determined by how the whole race plays out.
He added: “When you think about it its frustrating when you think how easily one or two tiny results could make a difference. Geraint was in a strong position in the Tour de Suisse when he got pulled from the race and that one result on it’s own would have far exceeded Mørkøv’s points…
“We could spend a lot of time fretting about it but there’s nothing we can do it.”
He said it made it more likely the team will be based around either one or two riders whereas they might have sought to have options for multiple different scenarios if they had eight men.
Park added that there could be some fringe benefits to having fewer riders in the team: “The expectation in the peloton will be different. One would hope the expectation won’t be like in the 2012 Olympic road race where they said the Brits are going for a Cav win so we’ll let them ride from the start.”
However, Park declined to comment on specific riders as British Cycling has only just this week completed its long listing phase, in which he said it looked at 160 different riders across all the disciplines at the Worlds.
It seems likely the GB men’s team for the Worlds will be built around current road race national champion Ben Swift. But he will now only have five riders to support him while bookies favourites such as Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands), Remco Evenepoel (Belgium) and Julian Alaphilippe (France) will all enjoy seven support riders.
Over the 285km from Leeds to Harrogate through the Yorkshire Dales having additional domestiques could prove crucial.
The women’s squad remains unaffected. They have qualified six riders to start as in the women’s field it is only the top five teams that get spaces for seven riders, nations ranked sixth to 15th get six spots. Great Britain are ranked 10th.