After strong Tour, U.K. cyclists preparing to dominate Olympics
WOKING, England (AP) -- After three weeks of pain and hard work led to a historic win in the Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins and his British teammates may have been forgiven for treating themselves to a nice relaxing time at their lavish Surrey retreat.
But there's no time to get carried away. The road race is Saturday, and the cyclists have one goal: propelling world champion Mark Cavendish to gold and giving Britain its first Olympic title of the London Games.
A bookmakers' favorite, Cavendish wants to add the Olympic title to the gold medal he won at the world championships last year.
"It's a dream team," Cavendish said on Thursday at the hotel located in the middle of the countryside, just a few miles away from the Olympic road race course. "We've got the first and second of the Tour de France, four guys who won stages at the Tour de France, the British champion, four guys incredibly motivated, four guys incredibly patriotic, incredibly loyal to each other."
The British team is made up of Cavendish, Wiggins, Christopher Froome, David Millar - all of whom won stages during the Tour - and British champion Ian Stannard.
Cavendish, a winner of 23 Tour de France stages, trained specifically for the Olympic road race over the last 12 months, losing about 8 pounds and improving his power-to-weight ratio to be able to tackle the nine climbs of the Box Hill loop highlighting the 155-mile (250-kilometer) race.
Many riders and pundits expect the race to be won or lost in that section. Cavendish, who dedicated himself to Wiggins' bid to win the Tour during three weeks, will count on his teammates to protect him in the climbs.
As it did during its Tour fairy tale, the British team is expected to ride up front on Saturday to try and control the race.
"Even with four guys around me there is no way I could go over Box Hill unscathed," Cavendish said. "I needed four of the best bike riders in the world to be able to do that."
Cavendish won the world title last year in Copenhagen, Danemark, with the same riders around him.
Wiggins is adamant he will work hard for Cavendish, vowing to finish the road race instead of prioritizing his own ambitions to win gold in the Olympic time trial on Aug. 1.
"I've got a job to do," he said. "You've got a 250-kilometer race and three days to recover, in a nice hotel."
Will Cavendish celebrate if he lives up to expectations and wins the medal a whole country is expecting him to get? Don't count on it.
Cavendish said he will travel to Belgium on Sunday to race in a small event before competing in France and the Netherlands.
"I don't really celebrate anything," he said. "Even last year after the Tour (when he won the green jersey) I did not have a party. I was the only one in the team that was not drunk."