World champion team-mates

By winning the World Championship road race in Denmark, Mark Cavendish became only the second British rider to wear the rainbow jersey after Tom Simpson in 1965. But this coming weekend the world’s best sprinter has a chance to achieve what no rider, Brit or otherwise, has ever achieved – win Paris-Tours as World Champion.

Unlike most other one-day races, the World Championships road race takes place on a different route every year. Often it is won by riders who could be classed as ‘sprinters’. To illustrate, recent winners of the rainbow jersey include Mario Cipollini, Oscar Freire, Tom Boonen, Thor Hushovd and now Mark Cavendish.

So it seems surprising then that no rider has ever won the Worlds and gone on to win the sprinters’ classic directly afterward. Conversely, on a number of occasions, a rider has won the Worlds and gone on to win the other Autumn classic directly afterward, the Tour of Lombardy.

There are seven riders who have won the Tour of Lombardy in the rainbow jersey. These seven riders are Alfredo Binda (1927), Tom Simpson (1965), Eddy Merckx (1971), Felice Gimondi (1973), Giuseppe Saronni (1982), Oscar Camenzind (1998) and Paolo Bettini (2006).

The Tour of Lombardy is a far hillier race than Paris-Tours and this may be the reason for the lack of Worlds/Paris-Tours doubles. When a classics rider capable of winning hilly races has form, he has plenty of opportunity to use it. If he’s feeling good at a tough part in the race, he can attack. There is no one point in the race where he must make his form count. There will always be a number of opportunities to create the race-winning move.

However, a sprinter has only one place to show his form, the final 300 metres. This part of the race can be chaotic, unorganised and perilous. If a sprinter and his team don’t get it right here, he has no chance of winning. It doesn’t matter if he’s the strongest in the race.

Whereas if a punchy classics rider misses a move, of course he may lose the race, but there’s always a chance it comes back together and he can have another chance to go for glory.

Thus, if the Worlds road race is on a hilly course and is won by a hilly classics rider, there’s more chance of that rider using his form to win the Tour of Lombardy than if the Worlds was won by a sprinter on a flat course and he goes on to try and win Paris-Tours.

Comprenez? Just a theory.

Although it still seems likely that Cavendish will end up riding for Team Sky next year, rumours abound that he may end up at OmegaPharma-QuickStep instead. If this is the case, then this Belgian team would have Cavendish, Tony Martin and Zdenek Stybar in their ranks; the current road, time trial and cyclo-cross World champions. Stybar is already part of the team and Martin has signed for next year.

This would be the first time ever that the World Champions of these three disciplines were all team-mates. Of course, Cavendish and Martin are already team-mates at HTC-High Road for what’s left of the season. So it begs the question, have the World champions of the road and of the time trial ever been team-mates before this?

The answer is yes!

In 2005, Quick Step-Innergetic team-mates Tom Boonen and Michael Rogers won both world titles between them in Madrid before Rogers moved to T-Mobile in the off-season. It sort of happened in 2004, when both World champions from the previous Autumn, Igor Astarloa and David Millar rode for Cofidis. However, both riders were subsequently banned for doping and Millar was stripped of his World title.

So officially Millar wasn’t World time trial champion when he rode with Astarloa at Cofidis. And funnily enough, Boonen and Rogers never road a race together as team-mates in the autumn of 2005. Therefore, the world champions of road and time trial have, as yet, never ridden a race together.

It also looks likely given their respective race programs for the remainder of the year, that Martin and Cavendish won’t ride together again as team-mates at HTC-High Road either. Perhaps they will next year…

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  1. John E Dunn - October 7, 2011 @ 11:04 am

    There could be a simple reason – tiredness.

    By October a rider successful enough to be World Champion is probably getting tired, especially a top-flight sprinter who will have probably won at least 10 races in a season to keep up their ranking.

    Paris-Tours could just be a race too far. Let’s face it, Cavendish would probably not be there if he wwasn’t wearing the rainbow bands.

  2. Irish Peloton - October 7, 2011 @ 11:53 am

    True. But then surely the same could be said for the Tour of Lombardy?

    Perhaps a more thorough analysis might be more revealing, like a plot of World Champion finishing positions in Paris-Tours vs. a plot of World Champion finishing positions in Tour of Lombardy?

  3. Anonymous - October 10, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

    What about Gilbert?

  4. Irish Peloton - October 10, 2011 @ 2:43 pm

    Eh? What about Gilbert?

  5. Stephen Salmon - November 17, 2011 @ 9:22 pm

    The one thing I hate about the World RR is the winner gets all the glory. No matter what way you cut it he is the one that reaps the rewards then and in the future. He gets the wear the rainbow jersey and no doubt his appearance fees, team salary, bonuses etc all increase 2 fold at least. What about, in this case in particular, his teammates?? Personally I am still surprised Cav won the sprint but 5 metres more and Goss had him. Just goes to show Cav really has it upstairs as well as in his legs when it comes to sprinting. The British team did an absolutely outstanding job to keep the race together in for the last km. But they nearly messed it up when Thomas and Stannard (i think it was Stannard) lost Cav on the final bend. Cav there and then proved to the world he doesn’t need a lead out train to win (coz he didn’t have one like he was used to with HTC, Sky have a lot to learn quickly for 2012 but Eisel will show em!), proved to the world he can time his sprints and most of all proved to the world he has the savvy and the bottle (to stay patient and not panic) to pick the right wheel! Although in my humble opinion it ws all these factorsa at the end that won it for him, there is no 2 ways about it, without the rest of the lads for the rest of the race he would never have got close. The most fascinating amazing thing for me is the fact the Brits never made a secret of their tactics from day one. And not one team out there could do anything about it, they had a couple of years at least to prepare for it and come up with something to counter the Brits but not one did or could. Amazing stuff and hats off to Brailsford and Ellingworth (who doesn’t get enough of the plaudits i think). They’ll do the same in the Olympics next year too. And they will succeed if Cav, Wiggo and a couple of others still has the legs after the tour. Although something tells me they’ll do something slightly different and someone like Swift will be the protected man. Anyway, I am waffling on, sorry.

    Yeah to get back to the winner getting all the prizes so to speak. I think the whole team should be allowed wear rainbow bands on the sleeves of their jersey and on their shorts too. Without a doubt they should!! Did you see the effort those guys put in over the course of that race? Unbelievable. And to sacrifice any ambitions of their own for one man?!? Really it the perfect example of teamwork and sportsmanship . I would even go as far as to say every rider who contributed over the season should be allowed wear the stripes somewhere and it should go on their palmares too. Like when the route was published the Brits called in all their cyclists and told them their plan. To get 8 riders (or 9? Jeez can’t remember) for the Worlds they needed so many UCI points. They were short on points to get the full compliment for the Worlds right up until the Tour of Poland (one the last, if not the, possible races to score points at) when Adam Blyth and Peter Kennaugh scored a point each that meant they had enough points to guarantee them the full team. Anyway Why am i telling you all this? You sure as hell know!! hahaha! I just got got on a waffle sorry.
    So yeah, every rider who contributed shoudl be allowed the stripes/bands on their jersey somewhere eh? More and more cycling is being hearlded as a team sport. So why can they not do this? Stands to reason eh? Plus it would be a huge, absolutely massive help to the domestique riders of the team. They go so often without the plaudits that the leaders get but now more than ever they need the points to carry on into the next season to make themselves more attractive to sign. Look at Lars Bak for example, not a great example but still. With HTC folding and with little or no points but one of HTC’s main riders and team players to get the win, if he was less well known or in a smaller team that folded but had helped his sprinter win heaps of races how can he be expected to market himself and negoiate a decent eage of no team will touch him coz he has no points? There i go on another tangent. Time for the couch and some tv i think.

    So there you have it. Give the squad the Rainbow bands on the sleeves of their jerseys so they can reap some of the rewards the following season. Imagine being a new pro eh? Your in your first big World Tour race. Your nervous as hell and all these super stars cycling around you. You find yourself in the middle of the bunch tearing along at 40kph. You look around and beside you is a rider you don’t recognise. The you notice the bands on the sleeves. Wow!! What a feeling that would be eh? Or even better, your a 2/3 year pro. Still finding your place in the peloton. Every time you go to bring your leader up near the front some established decent strong pro, with a few mediocre wins in his career but well respected, gives you a bit of stick for pushing and shoving your way to the front with your team leader nicely sheltered on your wheel. “Oi Salmon, where do you think you’re going? Get back in your box! You’ve no right to be up here. You’ll cause a crash. You’re in my way. Get back down outta here!!” … you wouldn’t have to say a word. Just point to your rainbow bands and give him the finger and bring your leader to the front just in time for the start of the hill … haha!

    Sorry for waffling on…

  6. Anonymous - November 18, 2011 @ 10:48 am

    Not sure I entirely agree with Steven’s analysis.

    Cavendish won the race but the benefits haven’t just gone to him alone – British cycling and the team members have basked in the glory, indeed its place in history above many previous Worlds races will be the extraordinary team effort. It will be written about for years to come.

    And handing out rainbow bands to every member of the squad ignores the fact that teams are rarely a factor in this race in the way it was for Cavendish this year. I can think of many Worlds races where the team’s impact has been marginal. Should Norway’s three riders have been given world bands in 2010 because Hushovd won even though he triumphed on his own? Not really.

    As to money, Cavendish got a big contract but he was always going to get a big contract. Would Goss have caught him five seconds later? Perhaps, but you could add 20 metres to almost every race and change the outcome. The finishing line is in the same place for everyone.

  7. John E Dunn - November 18, 2011 @ 10:48 am

    Sorry, last comment was from me…

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