Preview: Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins hit the road again
Less than a week after becoming Great Britain’s first Tour de France winner, Bradley Wiggins is back in the saddle and looking to help out his mate.
If Wiggins always seemed destined to win Le Tour, then Mark Cavendish is supposed to sprint down The Mall on Saturday afternoon to claim the first home gold medal of the London Games, completing the kind of week that British cycling – and cycle manufacturers – can only have dreamed of.
With Slovakia’s Peter Sagan, the Belgian Tom Boonen and André Greipel of Germany all in hot pursuit Cavendish won’t have everything his own way of course, but home advantage could well be key.
The Isle of Man rider, now one of the most recognisable faces in British sport along with Wiggins, has admitted that he has been over Box Hill – surely the key area of the 155mile road race course given that they go over it nine times – “more than 20 times” in the past, but the 27-year-old isn’t above admitting that he is nervous ahead of the moment that he’s supposed to kick-off two weeks of unprecedented British sporting success.
He’ll have Brits Wiggins, Chris Froome, David Millar and Ian Stannard by his side in the gruelling road race that, as well as the Mall and Box Hill, takes in Putney Bridge, Richmond Park and Hampton Court Palace, and ‘Cav’ is well aware of the role that they’ll have to play in what could very much be a team success.
“Box Hill is difficult,” he said. “If I didn't have a strong team there is no way I could get over it nine times.
“I need four of the strongest riders, not so much for the hill, but for after it, I need as much recovery as possible. I've been nervous this week. It's nerve-racking. But all the emotion has to be put aside. It sounds unromantic, but I've got a process to adhere to and if I can do that I will have a good chance of winning.
“I'm confident about the sprint but I've got to get to the sprint.”
If he does that in a good position then there aren’t many who can catch him, and with Millar admitting that he, Wiggins and company “will be riding Mark’s race,” there is every chance that the country will be celebrating Mark’s success once he reaches the Mall on Saturday afternoon.
Elsewhere on the first full day of action at the Games, the first battle between Michael Phelps and great rival Ryan Lochte takes place in the pool in the men’s 400metre Individual Medley.
Fourteen-time Olympic gold medallist Phelps has admitted that he’s emotional ahead of his final major championship before retirement, and has hinted that instead of compatriot Lochte – who beat him in the 400m Medley at last month’s US trials – it is his battle with his own mind which could provide the biggest challenge as he goes for the first of what he hopes will be many 2012 golds on Saturday evening.
Lochte could grab gold in the 400metre Freestyle event which Phelps has not entered, whilst medals are dished out in the Women's 400m Individual Medley and 4x100 freestyle.
At Wimbledon, the tennis event gets underway in both the men’s and women’s individual and doubles tournaments, with Serena Williams and Roger Federer amongst those in action on Centre Court in the singles just weeks after both clinched Wimbledon titles there, and Andy and Jamie Murray starting their assault on the double's tournament.
In the last match on Centre, Great Britain’s Anne Keothavong takes on former world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.
In Cardiff, Great Britain’s women will look to add to their opening football victory over New Zealand when they take on Cameroon.
Saturday’s key events:
Cycling: Road: Men’s Road Race (Medal event) (10:00 – 16:00)
Swimming: Men’s 400m Individual Medley Final (Medal event) (19:30 – 19:40)
Men’s 400m Freestyle Final (Medal event) (19:51 – 20:01)
Women’s 400m Individual Medley Final (Medal event) (20:09 – 20:19)
Women’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay Final (Medal event) (21:09 – 21:19)
Football: Women’s Football – Great Britain v Cameroon (17:15)
Tennis: Men’s Singles First Round (11:30 – 20:00)
Men’s Doubles First Round (11:30 – 20:00)
Women’s Singles First Round (11:30 – 20:00)
Women’s Doubles First Round (11:30 – 20:00)
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