Friday, 30 September 2011

The Manx Missile – New World Champion

It was brilliant to see Mark Canvendish, ‘The Manx Missile’, take out the world championships road race gold medal last Sunday. I have to admit – I am a big fan. I love the way he goes about his cycling. He wears his heart on his sleeve, is a straight talker and never forgets the people who have helped to get him where he is. He has gone through a transformation in recent years, turning himself from a yappy kid to one of the most respected riders in the PRO ranks. He has learnt that sprinters don’t win races without help, and he’s learnt when to be arrogant, and more importantly, when to be humble. And it’s this humble, gifted racer, who speaks with passion that we all like so much.

Cavendish started out his cycling life on the bmx and then moved to mountain biking at 12. Inspired by David Millar, he started winning races and took steps to become a professional cyclist. He began life as a professional on the track, winning gold at the 2005 world championships in the Madison. In 2006 he began his road cycling career, and quickly started earning his reputation as the fastest sprinter in the world. To date, he has won 20 stages at the Tour de France and in the 2011 edition, took home the coveted green jersey which had eluded him in previous years.

As far as the World Championships decider played out, it was a fast and furious race. At 260 km’s, it was a long course and the field went out hard in the beginning, averaging 50km/h for the first hour of racing. Many break aways were reigned in and despite many of the predictions by cycling commentators, it came down to a bunch sprint that initially looked to be controlled by an Aussie train. The push by Cav at the end was not as explosive as normal, but steady. He pushed to the front, as fast as a missile, and made it over the line first, despite a massive effort by Matty Goss, who came VERY close to coming over the top of Cav at the end. I was a happy man – two of my favourite riders placed 1 and 2.

I respect the way Cav races, it takes a lot to come through at the end smash the opposition. Trust me I know, it’s guys like him who beat me in the weekend road races. You can be as strong as you want for 50 or 100 or 200 km’s, but if you don’t have the legs at the end then forget about it. He also brings a flair to the UCI Pro Tour that could be compared to the Armstrong effect. Like Lance, Cav can talk – and it’s stuff you actually want to hear, not the typical dross that AFL or NRL players dish out. And… he has a sensational girlfriend, Page 3 girl, Peta Todd. Nice one Cav!

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