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Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Friday, 25 September 2009 14:14 UK

Cancellara targets cycling history

Venue: Mendrisio, Switzerland Dates: 23-27 September
Coverage: Watch live on the red button and BBC Sport website (UK only)

By Simon Brotherton
BBC 5 live cycling commentator in Mendrisio

Having conquered the cycling world on the track, Great Britain are one of the emerging nations on the road, but this is unlikely to be the year that yields World Championship medal success in Sunday's men's elite road race.

Fabian Cancellara
Cancellara celebrates his superb time trial victory on Thursday

The jewel in the British crown, Mark Cavendish, is not in Switzerland after a recent illness and the demanding nature of the route would not have played to his strengths as a fast-finishing sprinter anyway.

Instead, British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford is looking for the squad to ride and work well together as they develop as a team.

The idea is that this would then be of benefit in Geelong, Australia, next year, when the course looks much more Cavendish-friendly, and also in Copenhagen the following year.

It is a sort of "project rainbow jersey", with the multi-coloured jersey the prize that is awarded to world champions.

With Bradley Wiggins having concentrated solely on the time trial David Millar will lead the team.

Millar has excellent form, having won against the watch on the penultimate day of the Tour of Spain recently, but a British medal in this year's gruelling World Championship road race would be an unexpected bonus.

While Wiggins struggled with mechanical problems during Thursday's time trial, at times it was like watching Valentino Rossi as Swiss star Fabian Cancellara flew around the time trial course, often leaving the TV motorbike struggling to keep up as he whistled through corners and roundabouts.

This was as near to perfection against the watch as we are likely to see and gave the home crowd what they wanted and the event a worthy wearer of the rainbow jersey.

The remaining question now is, can he make it an unprecedented double by winning the elite road race on Sunday as well?

Miguel Indurain and fellow Spaniard Abraham Olano both nearly managed it in Colombia in 1995 but each had to settle for a gold and a silver, with Indurain beating his team-mate in the time trial, only for Olano turn the tables in the road race.

No one has come close since but although it is undoubtedly it is a tall order, Cancellara showed he has the potential to manage it with his efforts in Beijing at the Olympics last year when he won the time trial and then produced a stunning surge on the final lap of the road race to snatch the bronze.

Spain and Italy are main rivals - Millar

This year's road race course is a tough one - but so was last year's Olympic circuit at Badaling and we should not forget that Cancellara has many strings to his bow; he is far from just a fast man against the watch.

As well as Tour de France prologues and a total of 15 days in the yellow jersey, he has won some of the biggest races in the sport over the past few years.

Among an impressive 55 career victories are such monuments as Paris-Roubaix and Milan San-Remo, while he showed further development as a stage race rider this year by winning the Tour of Switzerland.

The nature of this year's course - 19 laps of a circuit for a total distance of 262.2km (163-mile) that includes 4,655m of climbs - means it is not one where teams can control the race for a sprinter.

This will be a 'strongman classics rider' type of day which means Andy Schleck, Alejandro Valverde, Damiano Cunego and Samuel Sanchez are the sort of rider likely to be there near the end.

Cancellara has to be on that list as well, though his team is not as strong as some others, both numerically and in terms of personnel.

Alex Murray - BBC Radio 5 live

Switzerland only have six riders because they are not in the top 10 in the world as a nation, while the likes of Spain, Italy and Great Britain have a full complement of nine.

But this race is effectively in Cancellara's back garden, he will be roared on by the home crowd and he has his eyes on a little piece of cycling history this Sunday.

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see also
Brailsford tight-lipped over Wiggins
25 Sep 09 |  Cycling
Cooke geared up for title defence
25 Sep 09 |  Cycling
Wiggins furious after bike failure
24 Sep 09 |  Cycling
Cycling body to ban race radios
24 Sep 09 |  Cycling
GB's Pooley misses out on medals
23 Sep 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish withdraws from Worlds
23 Sep 09 |  Cycling
Brits to watch at the Road Worlds
21 Sep 09 |  Cycling
Sick Cavendish ends Missouri bid
11 Sep 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish earns landmark victory
08 Sep 09 |  Cycling
Road bike guide
06 Mar 06 |  Cycling

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