Bring it on! Cavendish and Co on Box Hill as sprint star targets road race glory
14:45 GMT, 26 July 2012
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Mark Cavendish and his Great Britain team-mates took a good look at Box Hill during a training session on Thursday as the sprint king prepares for Saturday's gold medal bid.
Cavendish is the heavy favourite for the road race with David Millar, Chris Froome, Ian Stannard and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins charged with the task of delivering the Manx star to a grandstand finish on The Mall.
The 250km race also starts on the famous
old route outside Buckingham Palace and takes in Putney Bridge,
Richmond Park and Hampton Court.
Team spirit: Great Britain riders (left to right) Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and David Miller
From there it's on to nine loops around Box Hill before heading back through Leatherhead, Esher, Kingston and Richmond Park.
Box Hill is the most challenging part of the course and is where the Team GB stars expect most of the attacks to come.
But Cavendish is a man on a mission after leaving Beijing as the only member of the track team without a medal and is leaving nothing to chance with just two days to go.
Meanwhile, Lucy Martin will perform a selfless role in support of Great Britain team-mate Lizzie Armitstead when the women take to the road on Sunday.
Final preparations: Great Britain's riders on the road race course at Box Hill
As demonstrated in the Tour de France, when Cavendish collected bottles for Wiggins, who repaid his Team Sky colleague by leading him into finishes and wins in Brive-la-Gaillarde and Paris, cycling is very much a team pursuit.
Sunday's 140-kilometre women's road race, which also starts and finishes on The Mall, will be unpredictable and Britain need to adapt to how the event unfolds on the road.
Martin has been selected specifically to ride alongside and look after Armitstead, who is the nominated leader if the race finishes in a sprint, with 2008 champion Nicole Cooke, who will be given licence to roam, and Emma Pooley completing the team.
Martin said: 'I'll be there to support Lizzie, anything she needs. Just protect her, keep her out the wind and make sure she doesn't have to exert herself too much until the final moment.'
While cycling is a team sport, individuals are rewarded the medals.
Pedal power: Cavendish prepares for his road race gold medal bid
Women's road coach Chris Newton said: 'For any athlete to commit so much to not win and to put another athlete in a winning position, it's almost like you're rewarding a striker in football and the rest of the team getting nothing.'
The role is easier for Martin to fulfil as the 22-year-old from Widnes and Armitstead are close friends, who train and race together all year round.
'I race with her the whole year, we share a room all the time, so I know her really well,' Martin added.
'That's really helpful for in the race – she can just look at me and I know how she's feeling.'
Martin and Armitstead were selected on Britain's provisional list on June 13 and a week later confirmed in the final squad.
Here come the girls: (from left) Nicole Cooke, Lucy Martin, Elizabeth Armitstead and Emma Pooley
Earlier in the month Martin had taken a photograph on her mobile phone of The Mall during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and sent it to Armitstead, heightening the excitement and nerves of her team-mate ahead of the Games.
'That was a nice, inspiring photo,' Martin said. 'The Jubilee was a nice warm-up to see how big it can be on that finishing section, with the flags and everything.
'Even now I think it's going to be big. But when I get there it's going to be bigger than I can imagine.'
More than one million people are expected to line the course for the men's road race on Saturday's opening day, 24 hours before Martin, Armitstead, Cooke and Pooley begin their bid for success.
It will give the women's team the opportunity to assess not only the route, but also to prepare themselves for what to expect when they take to their bikes.
They will also be keen to see how their male team-mates perform, with Cavendish among the favourites for the 250km race, which features a gruelling nine ascents of Surrey's Box Hill, as British cycling bids to build on Wiggins' Tour triumph in the first weekend of the Games.
'I can see how huge it is then,' Martin said. 'At first I thought I wouldn't watch the men's race, but I think I'm going to need to turn it on and shout at the TV.'