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We don't know who Cav will ride for next season, but we do know that his jersey will be white with rainbow bands...

We may not know who Mark Cavendish will be riding for next season, but we know what jersey he'll be in, and it carries the rainbow bands across the chest. The 26-year-old is the new world road race champion after somehow finding his way through the traffic to win a thrilling climax to the World Championship road race in Copenhagen this afternoon. Matt Goss of Australia finished second, with Germany's Andre Greipl edging out Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara in a photo finish for third. Cavendish's win followed a day on which his Great Britain team mates put in a huge effort to ensure he was in a position to contest the finale. 

Immediately after winning a hectic finish to the 266-kilometre race, Cavendish, who becomes only the second British professional to win the title since the late Tom Simpson in 1965, said there “couldn’t be any other result” after the way his colleagues, six from his rumoured future employers, Team Sky, plus his boyhood hero, David Millar of Garmin-Cervelo, had worked for him.

Speaking before he was presented with the rainbow jersey that together with the green Tour de France points jersey was one of his two goals for the year, the 26-year-old added that the project had been three years in the making, with Copenhagen identified well in advance as being a course particularly suited to him.

This time last year, Cavendish didn’t figure in the race in Geelong in which he was supported by just two fellow British riders, but he singled out the efforts that other British riders had made during the 2011 season in racking up UCI WorldTour ranking points to give him as many supporting riders as possible today.

While only Cavendish will get to wear the rainbow jersey next year, each of those seven riders who supported him today will forever own a part of it, from Steve Cummings, who put in an unstinting effort at the front of the peloton in the early part of the race, to Bradley Wiggins, who almost single handedly pulled the main bunch along to close down a four-strong escape group in the final lap.

David Millar, Jeremy Hunt and Chris Froome all played their part in a supreme team effort throughout the race, and Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas were there to try and lead out Cavendish in what proved to be a hard fought finale, the sprinter ten riders back as the leaders shot round the final bend.

Squeezed onto the barriers on the right and then blocked behind Lars Boom, Cavendish managed to find the gap to come through and pip his HTC-Highroad team-mate Goss on the line as the Australian threatened to close him down.

With former colleague Greipel, the US trade team’s other star sprinter ahead of his switch to Omega Pharma Lotto for the 2011 season, completing the podium, the race in a way provided a final flourish for the graduates of Bob Stapleton’s outfit.

Cavendish’s victory, however, was very much one that bore the stamp, ‘Made in Britain,’ and one achieved, perhaps not coincidentally, in a jersey bearing the name of British Cycling’s sponsor – Sky.

Ahead of today’s race, it had been clear that while Great Britain’s ambitions of getting Cavendish into the rainbow jersey lay in ensuring that it came down to a bunch finish, other countries with more attacking riders, such as Belgium with world number one and pre-race favourite Philippe Gilbert, would be looking to attack and break up the field.

Shortly after the the start –  theoretically a neutralised 28 kilometre ride out to the beginning of the 14-kilometre closing circuit that would be lapped 17 times during the course of the day –  seven riders got away.

That group comprised Anthony Roux of France, Kazakhstan’s Maxim Iglinksy, Pablo Lastras form Spain, the Luxembourg rider Christian Poos, Estonia’s Tanai Kangert, Oleg Chuzda of Ukraine and Croatia’s Robert Kiserlovski. They would stay out in front for most of the race, at one point building a lead of eight minutes.

If Great Britain, and other countries pinning their hopes on a sprint finish including Germany and Australia, were happy to see those seen head off up the road, less welcome were attacks from riders of the calibre of Italy’s Giovanni Visconti and Belgium’s Johan Van Summeren.

As the peloton tried to chase those and other attacks down hard – the race would be characterised by a frantic pace throughout – a crash with five and a half laps left brought down some big name riders including Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck and Belgium’s Greg Van Avermaet, and also put an end to Thor Hushovd’s hopes of retaining his title.

Though not directly involved himself, the Norwegian was held up and none of those who went down in the crash or who were caught up behind it would be able to rejoin the main bunch.

Up ahead, several riders including France’s Yoann Offredo and Italy’s Luca Paolini, as well as Paris-Roubaix winner Van Summeren, had managed to bridge across to the lead group, but the catch seemed inevitable.

With a main bunch that had been reduced to a little over 100 riders fast continuing to make up ground on the leaders with a couple of laps to go, Great Britain as ever leading the chase, Roux attacked his fellow escapees.

The Frenchman was never going to stay clear, but next it was one of his compatriots, Thomas Voeckler, who attacked as the peloton bore down, giving his team mate a pat on his back as he rode past, followed by Nicki Soresen from Denmark and Belgium's Klaas Lodewyck.

That trio had a lead of 17 seconds as the bell sounded to herald the final lap, the Danes in a huge crowd lining the finishing straight going wild as Sorensen rode by.

Behind, Wiggins led the chasing bunch of 100 riders across the line, his Great Britain team mates tucked in behind him, Australia also prominent as they sought to keep Goss’s hopes alive.

Even at this point, a sprint finish was by no means a certainty, with Dutch rider Johnny Hoogerland managing to get across to the trio out ahead and raising the possibility that the group might just stay away.

However, it was fitting that it would be Cavendish, someone so quick to praise his team mates after crossing the line ahead of his rivals, who would clinch victory on a day when Great Britain put in a team performance par excellence.

Cavendish’s win gave Great Britain its second gold medal of the championships following Lucy Garner’s in the women’s junior road race.

It also means that Copenhagen 2011 finishes with Great Britain top of the medals table, with Wiggins and Emma Pooley taking silver and bronze, respectively, in the elite men’s and women’s time trials, Elinor Barker clinching silver in the junior women’s time trial, and Andy Fenn getting bronze in the men’s Under-23 road race.

2011 UCI Elite Men's Road Race World Championship Result 
1  Mark Cavendish        Great Britain     5:40:27 +0
2  Matt Goss             Australia      All at same time
3  Andre Greipel         Germany
4  Fabian Cancellara     Switzerland
5  Jurgen Roelandts      Belgium
6  Romain Feillu         France
7  Borut Bozic           Slovenia
8  Edvald Boasson Hagen  Norway
9  Oscar Freire          Spain
10 Tyler Farrar          USA
11 Denis Galimzyanov     Russia
12 Peter Sagan           Slovakia
13 Anthony Ravard        France
14 Daniele Bennati       Italy
15 Rui Costa             Portugal
16 Manuel Cardoso        Portugal
17 Philippe Gilbert      Belgium
18 Michael Morkov        Denmark
19 David Veilleux        Canada
20 Grega Bole            Slovenia

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

27 comments

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eddie11 [110 posts] 4 years ago
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hurray!  1

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obutterwick [474 posts] 4 years ago
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 16

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BikerBob [116 posts] 4 years ago
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Brilliant..................  4

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seanieh66 [196 posts] 4 years ago
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 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

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ashy_2002 [49 posts] 4 years ago
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Well done... BBC sports personality of the year ... THIS IS A MUST ... Needs all Cyclists to back this UP ..................

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stewieatb [292 posts] 4 years ago
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Crikey! I'm really sorry if I ruined your fantasy team by telling you he couldn't sprint up that hill. Well done Cav  4

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captain_slog [335 posts] 4 years ago
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Fantastic. Heroic performances from all the Brits.

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andybnk [97 posts] 4 years ago
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amazing to watch  16 4 4 4

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pepita1 [175 posts] 4 years ago
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I was jumping up and down, shouting "Come on Mark! Go Mark, GO!!" And he went. And he won! And I joyously shed some tears for the INCREDIBLE effort made by the WHOLE GB squad to bring the rainbow jersey to Britain!! As Geraint tweeted after the race, "It's a GREAT day to be British!"

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marvo [37 posts] 4 years ago
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Fantastic race and a brilliant result. Can only echo above. What a result for team GB.

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sanderville [337 posts] 4 years ago
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That has to be one of the best national cycling team results of all time. Plan A: boss the peloton and deliver your sprinter to the line. Unbelievable, and timed to perfection.

Can't wait for all the "are you a nutter" faces at work tomorrow when I rave about it.

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Simon_MacMichael [2449 posts] 4 years ago
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seanieh66 wrote:

 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

I think you might want to add some more big smiles there once you see today's Fantasy scores - well done  4

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joemmo [1164 posts] 4 years ago
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Just made it back from shopping and a kids party to catch the last 2 laps. Even the Mrs got caught up in the excitement of the finish!

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abudhabiChris [692 posts] 4 years ago
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What's Cav got on his helmet BTW.

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antonio [1119 posts] 4 years ago
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Everybody's taking the words out of my mouth!!

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blukas49 [5 posts] 4 years ago
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I was shouting inside as the wife was having the obligatory "You've been watching this for hours" moan (she's German). Welled up when he stood on the Poduim singing/wording God Save the Queen. Froome was the standout for me!  4

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James Warrener [1081 posts] 4 years ago
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Fantastic!

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manuka [36 posts] 4 years ago
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Superb teamwork and result!

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road slapper [87 posts] 4 years ago
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Congratulations to Mark Cavendish and Team GB. A true champion amongst the peleton.

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Simon_MacMichael [2449 posts] 4 years ago
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abudhabiChris wrote:

What's Cav got on his helmet BTW.

Some kind of cover, word on Eurosport was so it would make it harder for his rivals to pick out.

Although you'd imagine being the only rider in the bunch with such a cover would make you easier to ID  39

Sticking a Team Sky lid on him would have made him blend in more but presumably he's still obliged to wear Specialized due to being under contract to HTC  3

Whatever the reason, terrific ride by all the GB riders to get Cav to the sharp end of the race.

And once there, he rode fantastically well to get through the other riders and win it - with around 500 to go I honestly thought he wasn't going to come through, but it's not the first time this year he's gone missing in the bunch then burst through to win.

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Fringe [1047 posts] 4 years ago
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brilliant stuff, watched the last 2km about 5 times now. think i'll go watch it again..  4

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eddie11 [110 posts] 4 years ago
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re the helmet, it looked like a clear cover with no vents so my guess was it was to eek out aero advantage at the sprint?

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gears [30 posts] 4 years ago
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aero helmet and a skinsuit. did he not have a wee for 5 1/2 hours?
loved the way heinrich haussler led out the sprint then sat up and had his hands off the bars ready to celebrate.
never seen a team dominate so much. congrats to all

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stewieatb [292 posts] 4 years ago
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I hope the UCI don't look too closely at his helmet. Actually, I hadn't fully groked until now he was wearing a skinsuit! Brailsford probably has something to do with it  3

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seanieh66 [196 posts] 4 years ago
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 19 not bad eh? Top three riders plus a few others. It's a shame the game is over, but ithas been good to me. A trip to see the Giro I had to pass up and a Garmin 800 as a conciliation prize  1 I even won the Vuelta in one of the leagues I was in on the last day after leading it all race only to lose it two stages from the end:-)

Same again next year please.

Sean

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thereverent [398 posts] 4 years ago
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Great result.  4

I got some strange looks reading the updated on twitter, jumping around in the middle of Waitrose.  21
(I'd forgotten the time and wouldn't get home in time to watch it).

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timbola [243 posts] 4 years ago
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Still speechless after several hours - just BRILLIANT !!!!! Well done Cav - well done the team - don't let it be another 46 years of hurt - great quote from the Italian rider about GB being professional ... simply the BEST !  4