Mark Cavendish is playing down his chances of winning Sunday’s Road World Championship race in Geelong, Australia.
After testing the course over the weekend the Manxman told Cycling News, “The course is certainly too difficult for me. I hadn’t seen the circuit myself before now.
“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.”
The 262-kilometre course, which includes 11 circuits of a loop that features some sharp climbs, is certainly a tall order for any sprinter. Add to this the fact that there are only two other Great Britain riders in the race to support him – David Millar and Jeremy Hunt – and the challenge facing Cavendish begins to look extremely daunting.
But could there be an element of gamesmanship in Cav’s comments? In today’s Telegraph he strikes a slightly more positive note, saying, “It's not so hard that it is absolutely impossible for a sprinter having a good day and be in the mix. I've got a decent outside chance.
"As soon as I studied the course I decided to have a serious go. I didn't want to sit back in 10 years time thinking that perhaps Geelong was a missed opportunity. I'm in good shape so why not?”
Cavendish’s apparent pessimism isn’t shared by Chris Boardman, who told the BBC, “He is probably in the best form of his life coming to the end of a season so I am really looking forward to watching him try to become the first Briton since Tom Simpson in 1965 to win this event, although it is going to be a real dogfight.
“That circuit has got a couple of climbs on it, and it is certainly a lot tougher than people might think. But, from what I have seen of it, it is still one of the best World Championship courses for Cavendish that we have seen in recent years so this is a really good opportunity for him.”