Mark Cavendish leads GB challenge in next weekend's London-Surrey Cycle Classic

Could Olympic test event provide first chance for Manxman to ride alongside future Team Sky colleagues?

by Simon_MacMichael   August 6, 2011  

Mark Cavendish gives his thoughts on 2011 Tour de France route © Simon MacMichael

If it’s true that Mark Cavendish is headed to Team Sky following the news that his current HTC-Highroad team is being shut down at the end of the season, then the Tour de France green jersey winner will have his first chance to line up alongside some of his future team mates in the London-Surrey Cycle Classic next Sunday, the test event for next summer’s Olympic road race.

According to the provisional start list published on the race website, four Team Sky riders are included in the six-man Great Britain squad for the 140 kilometre race, which starts on the Mall next Sunday at 9am before heading out through South West London to the Surrey Hills before turning back to the capital.

Those riders are Cavendish’s fellow Manxman Peter Kennaugh, Ben Swift, Ian Stannard and Alex Dowsett, with Garmin-Cervelo’s Roger Hammond completing the line-up. However, with five members of each team starting the race, one of those riders will miss out on the chance to race on the roads where the Olympic medals will be decided in less than 12 months’ time, most likely Swift who is in the Team Sky provisional line-up for the Eneco Tour which starts on Monday.

Four Team Sky riders – Jeremy Hunt, Steve Cummings, Chris Froome and Russell Downing – also feature in a separate England team contesting the race, joined in the six-man squad by Garmin-Cervelo’s Dan Lloyd and Adam Blythe of Omega Pharma-Lotto.

While the provisional start list contains many unfamiliar names as several leading countries have opted not to select their big-name riders - many of whom will be riding in the Eneco Tour - there are nevertheless plenty of star names who will be riding too.

Those include former world champion Tom Boonen of Belgium and his Quick Step colleague Sylvain Chavanel, the current French champion. Slovenia’s Borut Bozic of Vacansoleil-DCM is one rider capable of springing a surprise.

Garmin-Cervelo’s Tyler Farrar spearheads the challenge from the United States, while Matt Goss, winner of this year’s Milan-San Remo and a key member of Cavendish’s leadout train for the Tour de France, will ride alongside the hugely experienced Stuart O’Grady for Australia.

Away from those countries, there are plenty of other riders capable of springing a surprise,

A number of leading UK-based teams will be riding as well, giving riders from the likes of Twenty3c-Orbea and Cycle Sport-Metaltek a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ride alongside some of the biggest names in the sport.

Full details of the event can be found on its website.