London 2012 Olympics: Mark Cavendish wins road race test event in thrilling sprint finish as crowds near 200,000

As a tantalising glimpse of what might be taking place on the Mall next July, it would be difficult to beat Mark Cavendish’s withering burst of speed to   take victory amid a forest of Union flags in Sunday’s Olympic road race test event. Repeating the exercise next year, though, will be more difficult.

The Tour de France green jersey winner – profiting from outstanding teamwork from Great Britain colleagues Roger Hammond, Peter Kennaugh, Alex Dowsett and Ian Stannard – roared down the Mall in his trademark hunched style to beat Italy’s Sacha Modolo and Samuel Dumoulin of France in a small select group of about 15 riders after the 2012 race route really bared its teeth.

Police estimate that the crowd lining the route approached 200,000 and Cavendish was thrilled and proud of what he described as the best British team ever. But he is realistic enough to know that nothing less than the best ride of his life will ensure an Olympic gold medal next year.

Before the race, discussions about the 9.75-mile Box Hill circuit had   concerned the need to supervise the crowd carefully on Zig Zag Hill, reached after the peloton had raced through south west London to the Surrey countryside.

What had not been anticipated, though, was the lung-busting qualities of the Zig Zag Hill climb and just how challenging a circuit this can be when raced full pelt.

On Sunday the field essentially rode the women’s Olympic course – 87 miles including two circuits of Box Hill – but next year they will be racing over 155 miles and nine circuits. This is a course which will suit the classics   riders – Philippe Gilbert, Fabian Cancellara et al – as much as the sprinters.

Full article by Brendan Gallagher

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