Rod Ellingworth, the British team manager for this weekend’s world road race championships, has tried to play down the importance of Chris Froome going for the win, but still finds himself unable to resist saying that given the quality of this year’s team, “we’ve got to go and win this bike race.”
Speaking to British Cycling’s Eddie Allen, Ellingworth said that this year’s world championship was part of a process that started with getting Mark Cavendish on the podium at the 2011 worlds.
“It’s a continuation of what we’ve been doing really,” said Ellingworth. “I think we’ve established our position a little bit. We won the world's and now it’s about continuing.
“For me this is about developing the next group really and I think Chris (Froome) coming in as a leader... I think there we can say look, we don’t just have the best sprinter in the world, I think we’ve got some of the best climbers in the world.”
Chris Froome has proven in the last two Tours de France that he is one of those climbers, and Ellingworth thinks the hilly world's course will suit him.
“Chris is certainly going to be competitive. He’ll be in the mix for sure if everything goes his way,” he said. “The worlds is always a bit of an unusual race but that’s what makes it so exciting isn’t it?
“He’d have to win it on his own. He’d have to break them one by one."
But the challenge for Ellingworth, who as Team Sky’s performance manager has proved he can shape a team into a Tour de France-winning machine, is to figure out how to make sure things go Froome's way in the far chancier situation of a one-day race.
“Cav can win one day races, the others aren’t proven particularly in one day races,” he said. “That’s the progression really, which is really interesting and that’s what we’re excited about.”
Nevertheless, the selection of Cavendish for the world’s team was slightly controversial. Can he a handle a hilly course?
“I think some people would have questioned Mark’s selection,” said Ellingworth. “But he’s on home turf, near enough – his second home – he’s ex-world champion. He brings so much to the party in the lead-up.”
Ellingworth said that this year’s world’s was both a step on the way to Rio 2016 and a chance for Froome to add a rainbow jersey to the yellow he won in July.
"Every time we get together as a national team we’ve got to grasp it and use it as either ‘this is the big one’ or progression,” he said.
"I sort of see this as an opportunity for Chris but also as a progression.
“Every time we get together as a national team we’ve got to grasp it and use it as either ‘this is the big one’ or progression.
“Even when we were going for the win with Cav (in 2011) we were thinking about the Olympics. There’s always the next step isn’t there? That’s the way I see it in my mind.
“Having a team that’s fourth in the world rankings with two Tour de France winners in it, we’ve got to go and win this bike race.”
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.