CYCLING’S self-proclaimed “fastest man in the world” Mark Cavendish fulfilled the dreams of the nation and coach Rod Ellingworth when he sprinted to victory in the sport’s World Road Race Championships in Denmark on Sunday.
Former Witham Wheeler Rod has been Cavenish’s personal mentor since his days in the Olympic Academy and saw all the years of hard work come to fruition in a nail-biting finish on the streets of Copenhagen.
Twenty-six-year-old ‘Cav’ became the first British road race world champion for 46 years after beating Australian Matt Goss and Germany’s Andre Greipel to the line in a bunch sprint at the end of the 266km epic.
Resplendent in the world champion’s rainbow jersey, Cav praised the efforts of his seven Great Britain team-mates and the man he calls “the best coach in the world” – Grantham’s Rod Ellingworth.
Rod’s three-year Project Rainbow all came together on Sunday when his carefully assembled Team GB – comprising of Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome, Jeremy Hunt, Steve Cummings and Ian Stannard – dominated the race throughout. The eight-man team stayed out of trouble at the front of the race, policing the peloton and pacing Cav to the line.
Manxman Cav lost the wheels of Stannard and Thomas in the final dash to the line but burst through a gap and powered to victory on the sloping uphill finish.
Rod’s father Jeff was at home watching the race unfold on television but has seen for himself the training efforts put in by Cav under his son’s tutelage.
Jeff said that the duo are very close friends and he spent some time with Rod and Cav at Epping after the sprinter pulled out of the Tour of Spain due to the intense heat. Jeff said: “The training he was doing was unbelievable. Cav has been under Rod’s wing since the Academy. He is the only one he wanted to coach him”
Jeff said that Cav would ride 50 miles hard with his training partner Alex Dowsett and then do another 50 behind a car driven by Rod. To make up for the lack of miles in his legs from quitting the Spanish tour, Rod also had Cav out training after completing stages of the Tour of Britain.
All the hard work paid off in Copenhagen and Rod’s father Jeff wonders how his son might eclipse the achievement of coaching a rider to become champion of the world.
Jeff said: “You couldn’t get better. It’s all coming good on the coaching front for Rod.”
With the dissolution of Cav’s professional road team HTC-Highroad at the end of the year, rumours are rife in the cycling world that Cav will join Team Sky which also boasts Rod as a coach.
And with the London Olympics next year, Rod can look forward to a busy 2012 and many more successes and accolades, both on the road and in the velodrome.