Manx cyclists aiming to finish Commonwealth Games with a bang

Peter Kennaugh talking to his parents Jackie and Peter Sr at the velodrome last Saturday prior to his silver medal ride in the 40km Points race. Sunday's 187km road race is a completely different kettle of fish but Kennaugh has a good chance of grabbing another medal if things work out his way

Peter Kennaugh talking to his parents Jackie and Peter Sr at the velodrome last Saturday prior to his silver medal ride in the 40km Points race. Sunday's 187km road race is a completely different kettle of fish but Kennaugh has a good chance of grabbing another medal if things work out his way

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All eyes are on the cyclists to provide the Isle of Man with a glorious end to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on Sunday afternoon.

The women’s road race precedes the men’s at 8.01am, starting from Glasgow Green in the heart of the city close to the banks of the Clyde.

The course features a 14km circuit taking riders along Argyle Street, Buchanan Street and St Vincent Street before carrying on to the west end of the city where they will pass through Kelvingrove Park and circuit the west end before heading back towards the city centre and the finish.

The female riders will complete seven laps, a distance of 98km (approximately 60 miles).

Flying the flag for the island are 30-year-old Laura Wasley and 18-year-old Anna Christian who both compete for UK-based teams nationally but are members of Manx Viking Wheelers on the home scene.

Laura is experienced both at national level and in Island Games events, but this is her first attempt at the Commonwealth Games - indeed only three women had represented the island at this level in road cycling before this week (Marie Morgan having been cruelly denied a medal a couple of decades ago).

Anna won the 2013 British Women’s Road Race title and finished 15th in Thursday’s Commonwealth Games individual time trial.

Both Manx women are accomplished road racers and will undoubtedly perform strongly on what it is a demanding course round the streets of Glasgow.

The men’s race will see competitors complete 168km (appx 120 miles) and lap the course 12 times.

The Isle of Man has a tremendous pedigree in what is the blue riband event of cycling at this level, with Stuart Slack winning a bronze medal in the 1958 event in Wales and Peter Buckley winning the 1966 event in Jamaica.

John Purvis, Steve Joughin and Mark Cavendish have all been close to securing medals in the Commonwealth Games over the intervening years and Cav was tipped as a likely favourite for the event having won the British Road Race Championship race over the same course in June 2013.

His stage one crash in the Tour de France sidelined the Omega-Pharma Quickstep rider from the Games, but former Sky team-mate Peter Kennaugh is in imperious form having succeeded Mark as British champion in Wales five weeks ago and since won the Tour of Austria.

He won the silver medal in the Commonwealth Games Points race last Saturday and has since been back home in the island preparing for the road race. He finished fourth in last year’s British championship road race over the same course.

A lot will depend on the assistance he attains from his Isle of Man team-mates and there is no doubt that they will do their utmost to support their lead man in what promises to be a thrilling, but nerve-wracking encounter.

Competing in what will be his Commonwealth Games swansong, the vastly experienced Andrew Roche will be determined to go out with a bang. He and Team Raleigh pro Mark Christian, who rode a very good time trial on Thursday, will lead Kennaugh’s support team, along with brothers Joe and Jake Kelly, and Cav’s stand-in Elliot Baxter who is a very strong and experienced all-rounder on road and mountain bike.

Mark Christian commented on Thursday: ‘I’m looking forward to it. I think we’ve got a great chance to get a medal out of it.

‘Pete [Kennaugh] is one of the favourites for the race and we shouldn’t be scared of anyone.

‘It’s a class field, but we’ve just got to give it a real good go.’

The main challenge will come from the teams representing Australia, New Zealand, Wales and England, all featuring top professional riders. Four years ago the Isle of Man was bullied out of the medals in Delhi, so It will again be a big ask.

Before heading home to the island for five days last weekend, Kennaugh said: ‘I’m really motivated for the road race, that’s really where my passion lies so I’ll give it everything. ‘

The men’s road race begins at 12.01pm Sunday and is likely to last four hours.

The event will be covered live on BBC (red button).

Full reports via twitter @iomsportsdesk and in Tuesday’s edition of the Isle of Man Examiner.

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