World Championships 2011
Everyone knew it would be a course for sprinters, and we surely had it confirmed by the unfolding of the race last Sunday: the peloton was easily cruising at 50 km/h, making it impossible for any breakaway to gain important gaps before the finish line.
If any rider tried to escape and, let's say, ride at 52 km/h, thus gaining 2.8 sec/km, he would have had a 28 seconds advantage over 10 km, were the attempt to last that long: the group led by the british team was easily able to accelerate up to 55 km/h and annihilate any attack.
Cavendish's team, supported by Greipel's Germans and Farrar's Americans, was simply superlative.
Not only because of the strength of the single athletes, but also thanks to a perfect race strategy that kept the peloton constantly at high speeds, allowing the Captain to spare the legs for the final sprint.
Pedaling in front of a whole group of cyclists at such speeds is definitely easier, supported by the air moved by the advancing mass of the peloton; and it gets even easier if the riders are wearing special body suits with aerodynamic tissues.
It's been known for a while now that there are some special tissues, not currently on the market (therefore not available to everyone...) that allow for a 15-20 watts saving at 50 km/h, compared to a more traditional tissue utilized for time trial body suits.
Mark Cavendish was able to express his usual amazing acceleration, also favored by an inferior body weight than his rivals and an extremely aerodynamic position during the final sprint, with his head seemingly "below the handlebars".
The englishman has to thank the italian rider Oss, who involuntarily (or maybe not) quit sprinting and opened up the gap for Mark to pass and take the victory at 150m from the line.
Not taking away the merit for an excellent performance by Cavendish, who didn't neglect anything in preparing for this race; the aerodynamic cover on top of his helmet is just a hint: a small detail that was useful in saving up energy all along the 270 km preceding the final sprint.