Mark Cavendish: I can't repeat World Championships victory

Defending world road race champion Mark Cavendish has told BBC Sport that he "can't win" Sunday's race in Limburg.

Last year, the 27-year-old became the first Briton to win the race in 46 years, but does not believe the hilly 261km Dutch course will suit him.

"I can't win," he said. "I haven't got a chance, so I will be in a support role for the other guys in the team."

Cavendish said GB would be "putting their money on" Jonathan Tiernan-Locke who won the 2012 Tour of Britain.

"He's an attacking rider and it is going to be a really open race and there are so many different options and riders who can win," the Manxman added.

Although the finish in particular does not suit the sprint specialist, a 1,200m climb up the Cauberg hill coming in the closing couple of kilometres, Cavendish said there was never any doubt that he would defend his title.

"There are not many sports where you win a world title and then get to wear a jersey for a year," he said, referring to the white top with rainbow-coloured bands that he has worn for the past 12 months.

"I'm here out of respect for the jersey and whether you can win or not you go and defend the jersey."

Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins raced on a similar course 15 years ago as a junior and he too has no qualms about trying to help his team-mates in the Netherlands.

"Jon [Tiernan-Locke] is in great form at the moment and is probably going to be our leader," Wiggins said. "We'll go out with a game-plan and try to implement it for Jon. Perhaps it won't be as straightforward as last year but we will have a go.

"Steve Cummings is also an outsider. He's got this great knack of popping out when it matters although he is probably more of an underdog. But I certainly wouldn't discount Steve."

Tiernan-Locke admits the "lumpy" course should suit his strengths, but is wary of raising expectations given the quality of the field and his relative inexperience at the highest level.

"People talk about the Cauberg [hill], but the finish comes 1.5 km after that so it is going to be more open than just for the climbers," he said.

"Maybe I will have a free rein but I don't think it will be a case of just everyone behind me. I am pretty unproven at this level and this distance as well."

Chris Froome, who finished second at the Tour de France, third in the Olympic time trial and fourth in the Vuelta a Espana, might have been a contender himself, but given his heavy recent workload, does not believe he will be challenging in the closing stages.

He said: "If [this race] was around Tour de France time I might have a chance.

"But I am feeling stretched and I don't think I'll be in contention in the final two laps."


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