Manx Missile tips 'three good friends' for time trial podium...

The hilly course of this year’s world road race championship won’t suit 2011 winner Mark Cavendish, but after a succesful year with Omega Pharma QuickStep has made up for a disappointing 2012, the Manx Missile says he’s looking forward to riding for Chris Froome in Florence on Sunday.

"I think he has got a super good chance,” Cavendish said. “We're going in with that plan. If we didn't think he had a really good chance, we'd be going in with more than one plan.

"We're going with just one plan and that's to set Chris up. It's a hard course, he's in good form, he's won the Tour de France and we've got eight guys. We're in a good position to try to challenge for the win."

Speaking after winning his third stage of the Tour of Britain, Cavendish said he thinks the British race is ideal preparation for the worlds and he plans to be back.

"I'd like to, it's getting bigger," he said. "It's actually looking like quite a good race to prepare for the World Championships now.

"I did this race before I won the World Championships and just seeing the amount of people out, it's near on a certainty it's going to grow in terms of UCI ranking.

"I have a great relationship with the organisers and it's always nice to race in front of a home crowd on home roads."

Last year was disappointing for Cavendish as Team Sky’s focus on the overall win at the Tour de France meant he had less support in the sprints, and the British team’s plan to propel him to an Olympic gold medal unravelled on the roads of Surrey.

His current team, Omega Pharma-QuickStep is far more focussed on  his strengths, so it’s not surprising he’s upbeat.

"I'm really happy. I've been really happy all year,” he said.

"I'm having a great time. We're successful and really have fun at the races. It's really good that, although things didn't work as we wanted early in the year, we still won so much.

"We've got the likes of Alessandro [Petacchi] in the team and Mark Renshaw again for next year. I think we can only get stronger from here."

While he thinks Froome is a strong chance for the road race, Cavendish is tipping three of his friends for the time trial, including Sir Bradley Wiggins who clinched overall victory at the Tour of Britain with a commanding ride in the time trial.

"He definitely looks in super good form," Cavendish said of Wiggins. "I'd like to see the top three - and I believe it could be the top three - three really good friends of mine, Tony Martin, Bradley Wiggins and Taylor Phinney. Not in any particular order.I'd be really happy if it could be those three on the podium."

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.