Mark Cavendish will be going for gold for the Isle of Man in the road race at April’s Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast – but in news that has come as a surprise to some, Peter Kennaugh’s name is not among the 32 athletes who will represent the island at the multi-sports event.
In Glasgow four years ago, Kennaugh took silver for the Isle of Man – its only medal of any colour at those games – behind his former Sky team mate Geraint Thomas, who was representing Wales.
There’s a simple reason for the 28-year-old not being in the Isle of Man squad for the Gold Coast, however – the road race, on 14 April, clashes with the start of Ardennes Week and following his move to Bora-Hansgrohe, he has already confirmed that his programme includes the Amstel Gold Race, the Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Cavendish, the last athlete in any sport to win a gold medal for the Isle of Man when he triumphed in the scratch race in the velodrome at Melbourne in 2006, is aiming to top the podium on the road this time on a sprinter-friendly course starting and ending at Currumbin Beach.
The 32-year-old will be supported by Sam Brand, Nathan Draper, Jake Kelly and Leon and Tom Mazzone, who are likely to face strong opposition from an Australia team looking to set up Caleb Ewan for a home victory, assuming the sprinter is named in the squad.
Graham Hatcher, manager of the island’s cycling team, quoted on BBC Sport, said: "It is a very strong line-up. Mark only wants to finish in one position – gold. It's a course that will suit him with a chance of a sprint finish.
"We've got a great group and training is going well."
The race will comprise nine laps of an 18.7-kilometre circuit for the men, while the women’s road race – where the Isle of Man will be represented by Anna Christian, the British under-23 time trial champion, and Lizzie Holden – will ride it six times.
Matthew Bostock and Matthew Draper will ride for the Isle of Man in track cycling, while Nick Corlett will compete in the mountain bike race.
The cycling team is the largest among the eight sports the island will compete in on the Gold Coast.
Isle of Man Commonwealth Games President, Basil Bielich, commented: ”The selection for the team has highlighted the high level of sporting talent in the Island, with 43 athletes meeting the qualifying criteria, of which only 32 could be selected for the team.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for these athletes to represent the Island and I’m sure everyone at home will be rooting for them.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.