Warwick > Warwick 157.6km
The Commonwealth Games Road Race is an interesting event. We have a few riders coming here from the Tour, will they be tired or benefit from the much-lauded Tour legs? For those that don’t know, this is the only event where Team GB split into their individual countries, which means we have Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man competing. Throw in Australia and New Zealand and we have a very competitive start list.
25 degrees and sunny.
Pretty much as flat as you’ll find in this part of the world. There are a couple of little drags, but essentially this is pancake flat. The men do ten laps of the circuit, but when will the action kick off?
Let me get this out of the way at the start, it won’t be a big sprint. Yes, it is a flat day, but the race will still be hard, and we’ll see a gradual slimming down of the peloton. None of the teams will want to take Cavendish to the line, that means they’ll try and break the race up and get a group away off the front. Cav will know this, he’s brilliant in this type of racing. His recent win the British championship is a great example of what he can do in a one-day race, he has Jedi skills when it comes to sniffing out the right move.
Crucially for the Isle of Man, they also have Ben Swift as another option. Swift also has a great record in races like this, he’s a two-time British road race champion. They’ll be happy if either man gets in the move that goes away, they both can finish it off. Motivation will also be very high, they don’t get to ride for the Isle of Man very often, in fact, this will probably be the last time for both men.
England look the strongest team on paper. They have Stewart, Connor Swift, Turner, Vernon, and Wright as strong options. They have a couple of sprint options, but they don’t want to take Cavendish to the line. England will look to take advantage of their numbers, their squad is full of big, strong boys. Swift and Wright both come from the Tour de France, if they have recovered well, they could be on a different level to most in this race.
Wales also have strong riders in Doull, Thomas, Rowe, and Williams. The first three have all the experience in the world, but I wouldn’t say they were favourites for the win.
Australia’s plans have been thrown into disarray, with the news Caleb Ewan has withdrawn. They still have strong riders in Dennis and Plapp but challenging for gold will be very difficult for them.
New Zealand are the other big team in the race. They don’t have one of the main favourites for the win, but they have some strong riders in their group. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them walk away with a medal, they have a nice mix of power and experience.
So, I think we’ll see lots of attacks in the second half of the race and eventually the right group will get away and fight out the win.
Mark Cavendish – he’s won so much in his career but taking gold for the Isle of Man would be special. He knows that all eyes will be on him, he’s going to be heavily marked by the other big teams. As I’ve already mentioned, he is brilliant in races like this, he starts as the big favourite to take gold.
Ben Swift – provides an excellent second option for the Isle of Man. With everyone looking at Cavendish, he can benefit from getting a little freedom. Swift spends all his time riding as a domestique for Ineos, but when he’s given freedom in races like this he rarely disappoints.
Fred Wright – after a brilliant Tour de France, he took silver in the TT on Thursday. Wright is someone who I’ve been watching closely for several years, his progression has been good to see. This year has been incredible, he was 7th in Flanders, before going so close to taking a Tour de France stage win. He’s a rider who can perform well in all terrain, except from the high mountains, he’s a Swiss army knife of a rider. Given his current form he could well be the best option for England, but it depends on how the race develops.
Jake Stewart – the local option, he grew up riding on these roads. This year hasn’t been easy for him, his start to the season was delayed until May due to health issues, eventually leading to a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease. Thankfully, he has managed to get back to racing, but that first win has just been out with his grasp, but it’s definitely coming.
Connor Swift – with another successful Tour de France in the legs, Swift can approach this race with a lot of confidence. This year we’ve seen him look very strong in races, climbing better than ever before. There’s not been an announcement yet about his future, but I think he’ll be on the move to a big team in 2023. A former British champion, he knows how to win races like this. England have several options, if Swift has Tour legs, he’ll be one of the men to beat.
Ben Turner – another big option for England. As he doesn’t have a sprint, he needs to be used to break the race up. Turner has enjoyed a brilliant first season for Ineos, he’s got a very bright future.
Shane Archbold – he rarely gets a chance to ride for personal glory, but this should be one of his opportunities. New Zealand have an experienced team with them and could fly under the radar a bit. Shane did put in a big shift in the Tour of Poland stages, so hopefully he’s recovered okay and can challenge for a medal.
I see a battle between England and the Isle of Man and a win for Ben Swift.