Mark Cavendish’s hopes of becoming Britain’s first world road race champion in 45 years have been crushed after the Isle of Man rider previewed the course for Sunday’s race.
Cavendish, a 15-time stage winner on the Tour de France, had high hopes of emulating Tom Simpson’s feat of 1965 and winning the coveted rainbow jersey at the world road race cycling championships in Geelong.
A first, thorough, look over the 15.9km circuit which will be raced 11 times by the peloton has, however, forced Cavendish into a rethink.
It features two steep climbs that should leave Cavendish struggling to compete.
“According to what people had been telling me beforehand the rainbow jersey was a possibility, but now that I’ve been able to check it out for myself, I’ll have to revise my ambitions,” Cavendish said.
Sunday’s 262.7km race begins in Melbourne, from where it heads to the circuit in Geelong, a scenic port on the gateway to the Great Ocean Road.
Even in the event of a bunch sprint Cavendish, who rides for HTC-Columbia, would struggle as the home straight rises steadily uphill for around 700 meters before the finish line.