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RACE favourite Mark Cavendish has pressure on his shoulders as he goes for gold down The Mall today but he could scarcely ask for a better chance to write his name into Olympic lore.

The British 2012 Tour de France Green Jersey winner and current road race world champion is in the form of his life, has the backing of a world-class team and is racing on a course built to suit his talent.

But still there are dangers to be negotiated over the 155-mile course from the moment the 145 riders disappear from view at Buckingham Palace until their return to the famous street about six hours later.

The field will head southwest through the city, cross the Thames at Putney Bridge and out through Richmond Park, Bushy Park and Hampton Court Palace.

The bulk of the race takes place in Surrey, including nine laps of a circuit round Box Hill where Cavendish will be roared on by a huge partisan crowd but this is also where he will have to beware the pitfalls. A puncture on the tight roads would be disastrous, creating real difficulties working his way back to the front of the peloton - the main group of riders.

Breakaways are also to be feared as there will be two types of tactic.

Cavendish and the Brits - as well as the Germans and Australians - want to keep the field together and have the race to come down to a bunched sprint finish because the favourite will be almost unbeatable if there is a mad dash on The Mall.

But even if a breakaway forms during the Box Hill climbs, once the race heads back into the city there is 18 miles of flat, wide roads which will help the peloton chase them down.

David Millar and Ian Stannard will put in the hard yards for Cavendish in the bulk of the race, keeping him at or near the front and out of trouble.

But when the wind-up comes for the finish, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome will take charge, giving him the lead-out.

There he will sit in their slipstream until he is ready to make his dash for the line with Andre Greipel of Germany and Slovakia's Peter Sagen his main rivals for gold.


CHAMP Cav wins Green Jersey last week
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 28, 2012
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