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.”
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.