Cycling World Championships: men's road race

Philippe Gilbert becomes the new world champion after a gruelling 269km men's road race, with GB's Jonathan Tiernan-Locke 19th.

23 September 2012 Last updated at 16:24

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As it happened

  1. 1623: 

    Time for me to bid you all farewell. It's been a great week of racing in the Netherlands and a terrific weekend with Marianne Vos showing her class in the women's road race on Saturday and Philippe Gilbert proving today that he is the master of the Cauberg.

    And maybe we all saw the start of a new career for David Millar? I think you'll all agree his co-commentary was outstanding.

    Thanks for all your texts and tweets over the last seven hours. Let's do it again some time.

  2. 1618: 

    The race report is live on the wesbite - just a few paragraphs to get you going, but I'll be adding to it shortly.

  3. 1616: 

    The medal ceremony is taking place with UCI president Pat McQuaid handing out the prizes. Up first is Spain's Alejandro Valverde, who also won the bronze in 2006. Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen steps up for the silver and the obligatory bunch of flowers. And here's the rainbow jersey for Belgium's Philippe Gilbert. And that smile is going to take some shifting from his face.

  4. 1614: 

    BBC Sport co-commentator David Millar: "That was the Gilbert of last year and we've been waiting for that. It's what he did all last year. I'm so happy for Phil, he won everything last year and didn't win the Worlds. Everyone was questioning him but he's proven he's a worthy world champion. Class shines through and we forgot what he's capable of doing and he's such a spectacular bike rider. It was a devastating attack and he knew he was going to do it all along. There's no other rider in the world that can do that."

  5. 1612: 

    The Belgian fans are going crazy in Limburg with several sprinting up the Cauberg to get to the presentation area. Hugh Porter suggested there may well be a few beers sunk by Belgian fans tonight - I'd suggest a few may have already started.

  6. 1609: 

    BBC Sport co-commentator David Millar: "Gilbert's whole season was set around winning the world title and he's pulled it off."

  7. 1608: 

    As for the Brits, Jon Tiernan-Locke came home in the bunch five seconds behind the winner in 19th which is a terrific result. Stannard blew up a little towards the end to finish 42nd. My pick Sagan was 14th. Just didn't have the legs on the final climb.

  8. 1605: 
    CHAMPAGNE MOMENT

    Here's your official 1-2-3 then. Gilbert's winning time was six hours, 10 minutes and 41 seconds with Boasson Hagen four seconds back and Valverde a further second back in third.

  9. 1604: 

    "He's a worthy world champion," says BBC Sport co-commentator David Millar. That was a terrific acceleration on the Cauberg by the Belgian to break clear of the field and as he powered away, Spaniard Valverde, Norway's Boasson Hagen and Russia's Kolobnev spent too long dithering.

  10. 1601: 

    BELGIUM'S PHILIPPE GILBERT WINS MEN'S ROAD RACE

  11. 1601: 

    The three riders behind are not working to get after Gilbert. Valverde, Boasson Hagen and Kolobnev are too busy looking at each other rather than chasing.

  12. 1600: 

    Everyone safely round and Italy with Nibali taking over. Belgium looking strong with four riders and Gilbert goes for it. He flies away from the field. That is a tremendous burst and he goes over the top first. Can he race to the finish on the flat section at the top? He's got 1km to go.

  13. 1558: 

    Irish duo Dan Martin and Nicolas Roche are still in the mix, as is Voeckler but Stannard is powering along with with JTL in his wheel as they hurtle towards the dangerous left-hander at the bottom of the Cauberg. 3km to go.

  14. 1556: 

    Water bottles are being discarded left and right as the riders rid themselves of any excess weight on their bikes ready for the final ascent of the Cauberg. Germany come to the front, trying to get Degenkolb into position but Stannard is working hard to put JTL in a decent place as we go through 5km to go.

  15. 1553: 

    Italy's sprinter Moser is one of the big sprinters to keep an eye on in the finish says Hugh Porter as Spain's Contador turns the screw at the front, taking over from Sanchez. Jon Tiernan-Locke has shown his one-day racing credentials today, says David Millar. Whether the Brit has the legs for the finish remains to be seen but he still has Stannard helping him out.

  16. 1550: 

    Sammy Sanchez is setting the pace for his Spanish team-mates as Contador brings Rodriguez through towards the front - they are trying to get Valverde and Freire into position remember. The Belgian train looking well set in Sanchez's wheel as they reach the top of the Bemelerberg.

  17. 1547: 

    It's all settled down a bit. Gilbert is fourth in the Belgian line. German sprinter Degenkolb is on paper the fastest sprinter left in the front group, according to Millar and is a big threat. Stannard and Tiernan-Locke are the only British riders left in the front bunch. Sagan drifting along nicely as we hit the final 10km. Hold on to your hats kids.

  18. 1543: 

    Spain's Daniel Moreno steps on the pedals the race goes over the finish line with one lap remaining. We are 16km from the finish folks. Boasson Hagen right up there in the mix. And here goes Tommy Voeckler. The Frenchman zipping through the feedzone but Stannard is not letting him get away. Nibali goes again but Stannard and Ireland's Dan Martin are shutting it down. This race is anybodys.

  19. 1540: 

    The man nicknamed the diesel train has blown Talansky away on the climb but before I get too excited, here comes Sagan, Italy's Vincenzo Nibali, Gilbert, Valverde, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Jonathan Tiernan-Locke is still in there. Stannard has held on to the wheel of those who went past him.

  20. 1538: 

    Stannard and Talansky are safely round and two British riders, including JTL slow the peloton down as they go round, helping their man up the front. AND HERE GOES STANNARD!

  21. 1536: 

    We have 20km of this race remaining. Stannard and Talansky are putting in a monumental effort here - they are two more ascents of the Cauberg and one of the Belemerberg from glory. The peloton ups its pace slightly with everyone fighting to get in a decent position for the left-hander onto the Cauberg.

  22. 1533: 

    The main bunch squeezes through the feeding station at the top of the Belemerberg and they are 13 seconds behind Talansky and Stannard. "This is the perfect situation for the British team," says Millar. "JTL can follow any attack on the Cauberg knowing he won't be expected to do any work because he'd be chasing his own team-mate."

  23. 1531: 

    Andrew Talansky of the United States has made a break on the Belemerberg but Britain's Ian Stannard has set off after him. If these two work well together they could put a decent gap because a Belgian is leading and the other four Brits are behind him and won't want to work to bring it back. "This is a dream pairing," suggests Millar.

  24. 1528: 

    We are inside the final 25km of the race - that's about a lap and-a-half to go. "Teams will have to go for it on the Cauberg this time round and even if they don't get rid of [sprinters] Degenkolb and Boonen they will at least hurt them," says David Millar, who adds he is "proud" to see all five British riders up at the front of the race.

  25. 1524: 

    Spain's Samuel Sanchez has a wee dig off the front but his move is covered - there are 70 riders in this leading bunch and Britain's Luke Rowe is riding second wheel. Oscar Freire, looking to become the first rider to win four world titles, is also there, alongside Valverde. David Millar says: "The Spanish are honest with each other and will be discussing who is feeling the best to go for the win. Contador is having fun out there, he knows this is not a race for him so he's just going to try and help as best he can."

  26. 1521: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Matt Collingwood on Twitter: "Assuming the break is caught, Gilbert to go on the final climb up the Cauberg and pinch it."

  27. 1520: 

    We have two laps remaining and the field is all back together as the leading bunch all sit up but expect attacks to come. Tiernan-Locke needs to be watchful here. But he at least now has his remaining British team-mates with him.

  28. 1517: 

    Here we go. Everyone safely round the left-hander and Spain's Flecha continues to push the pace but the peloton are closing in with every wheel turn. Coppel is the first to lose touch with the leaders. Contador is not hanging round at the front, he's trying to whittle down that front bunch further for when Valverde comes through. But Voeckler is on the counter and Tiernan-Locke is just monitoring the situation.

  29. 1515: 

    Britain are looking well-placed in the race with Ben Swift, Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe near the front of the chasing peloton and Jon Tiernan-Locke and Steve Cummings in the leading bunch as we approach the Cauberg for the ninth time. Will the race blow open this time round?

  30. 1513: 

    Mark Cavendish has been talking to reporters after an early finish to his race: "I'm more tired after 140k than after 250k last year at the world championships," he said. "With one minute to go [before the start] I was like: 'I've got one minute left as world champion'.

    "As a world champion it's been a good year. The last more successful person was Tom Boonen in 2006 when he won [the world title] in 2005; 15 wins is not bad with the world champion jersey."

  31. 1510: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Rob via text on 81111: "Voeckler will surprise everyone."

    And here's Ryan Lewis on Twitter (not really nailing his colours to the mast): "JTL or Cummings is what my heart says but my head says Contador, Sagan or Gilbert."

  32. 1508: 

    Over the top of the Bemelerberg they go again, Cummings and Tiernan-Locke still looking strong. Hugh Porter informs us that Peter Sagan has lost all his Slovakian team-mates, caught up in that crash a few minutes ago. Millar doesn't think Sagan needs them, saying: "I think he came from a Jedi background."

  33. 1506: 

    BBC Sport co-commentator David Millar: "I'm exhausted. I've never talked this much in my life and I've never watched a race in this much detail before. I'm loving it."

  34. 1503: 
    GET INVOLVED

    About an hour of racing left then - time to nail your colours to the mast. Who are you going for? I'm picking Sagan. Tweet #bbcsportsday or text 81111, remembering to put your name on your message.

  35. 1501: 

    "None of the big riders have been affected by the crash," says David Millar. The leading group has thinned out a bit to around 16 riders and they lead the chasing group of 57 riders which contains Sagan, Gilbert, Boonen, Gerrans et al by 45 seconds.

  36. 1459: 
    OUCH!

    France's Bouet puts in a big turn at the front on the Cauberg before dropping away, his day is done. And there's a big spill towards the back of the peloton and that blocks the entire road. There doesn't appear to be any Brits involved, they were all safely towards the front of the peloton but that has split the race wide open at the back. Up front, Voeckler leads over the line. Three laps of 16km left.

  37. 1453: 

    Spain are pushing along at the front with Flecha tapping out the rhythm. Millar suggesting they are trying to ride the finish out of some of the sprinters in the chasing peloton while giving their own riders Valverde and Freire more of a chance because they don't have to work as hard in the chasing bunch.

  38. 1450: 

    BBC Sport co-commentator David Millar: "This has ended up being a great move by JTL. He's sitting in the wheel not having to deal with the stresses of being in the peloton."

  39. 1447: 

    Karl Green tweets in to ask why Wiggo and Froome have abandoned the race. Same reason as Cav really. Fatigue. Both have had massively tough seasons and team tactics dictated that they ride to try and help Tiernan-Locke win the race. They've done as much as they can and there's no point in them continuing once they drop off the pace.

  40. 1444: 

    The neutral car zips past the leaders indicating that their advantage is less than 30 seconds over the peloton. Who has the legs to go for it on the Cauberg? Belgium are doing all the work on the front of the main bunch at the moment. Could we see Gilbert make a more concerted effort to go this time? The good news for the British fans is that Tiernan-Locke should not have used up too much energy in the break because he's not been dictating the pace.

  41. 1440: 

    Brilliant scenes as a dad out for a Sunday ride with his boy take on the pace of the leaders from the relative safety of a cycle lane. The young lad is sat on a tag-a-long his legs going round quicker than a bee's wings as his dad provides the power up front. They have to swerve ever-so-slightly to avoid a discarded water bottle.

  42. 1438: 

    We have four laps to go and Contador leads the race through the line but the rider who is looking most comfortable at the moment is Sagan. He won the green points jersey at the 2012 Tour de France which is usually won by a sprinter but he showed his climbing credentials on stages very similar to this one. Could he be the dark horse that everyone forgot? The leading group is around 50 seconds clear.

  43. 1435: 

    Back on to the Cauberg and will Contador go again? Tiernan-Locke and Cummings taking it easy in the middle of the lead bunch. Australia's Richie Porte on the front of the peloton setting a high pace - but here comes Colombia's Rigoberto Uran leading Gilbert and Slovakia's Peter Sagan.

  44. 1430: 

    BBC Sport co-commentator David Millar: "The panic button has been hit behind and there are seven or eight riding on the front of the peloton now."

  45. 1429: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Mark Payne on Twitter: "This route may suit Ed Boassen Hagen, Sagan or Degenkolb (all sprinters can clear lumpy stuff) hard to see past Gilbert though."

  46. 1428: 

    Bit of a crash towards the back of the peloton on the Bemelerberg, nothing too serious and everyone is back up and racing. Italy and France pushing on the leading group which is 68 seconds clear at the top of the hill, although David Millar doesn't expect them to stay clear for much beyond the top of the Cauberg at the end of this lap.

  47. 1419: 
    Wiggins, Froome, Dowsett abandon

    The lead is hovering around the one minute mark as news reaches me that British trio Wiggins, Froome and Dowsett dropped out at the end of the last lap. We are on the sixth lap of 10 and there's around 75km remaining.

  48. 1418: 

    This is a big group out front now. Britain have Cummings and JTL in this leading group which totals around 29 riders. Belgium have two riders in the group which Millar suggests is a waste because Gilbert and Boonen are back in the peloton.

  49. 1415: 

    "This is a very significant move," says Millar as three Frenchmen take over the lead of this new group. Tiernan-Locke safely in there. "Spain won't want to drive this because they don't have Valverde or Freire there but France have Voeckler and will want to push on."

  50. 1413: 

    The three main groups on the road are almost all within sight of each other as they ascend the Cauberg again. Contador has again jumped out of the peloton and Jon Tiernan-Locke has gone with him. He is sticking to Contador's wheel up the Cauberg. Terrific racing from the Tour of Britain winner but given Millar's warning a moment ago, I hope he's not played his hand too soon.

  51. 1410: 

    David Millar on BBC Sport: "Jon Tiernan-Locke shouldn't make a move until the final two laps, maybe even the final lap. You only get one chance to attack and you have to use it wisely. Some of the best riders can go two or three times but most have got only one chance."

  52. 1405: 

    "Philippe Gilbert will be getting so excited," says David Millar as rain starts to fall in the Netherlands. For the uninitiated, rain makes the roads slippier and that will not pay into the hands of any of the sprinters. Gilbert on the other hand is an excellent bike handler Millar reminds us and enjoys the inclement conditions.

  53. 1404: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Ian Butt on Twitter: "David Millar's insight is tremendous to listen to. Cav has shown us that in defeat he is an honour to all sport."

    Tom Aird on Twitter: "What a great example to sports fans of all ages @MarkCavendish is. Even the world champion is no bigger than the team."

    KenBarlowKenBarlow on Twitter: "What a glorious, selfless ride by Mark Cavendish. One of these GB riders now needs to win this in his honour." #bbccycling

  54. 1403: 

    Meanwhile, the 11 out front continue to push on. They are on the Belemerberg again and lead the chasing group by 50 seconds with the peloton a further 38 seconds or so adrift. "The whole race could completely shift in the next lap or two," David Millar tells us on BBC Sport.

  55. 1359: 

    Cummings's group looks destined to fail in their efforts to catch the leading 11. There are not enough riders in it working together to catch the leaders. Both the Australian and Belgian riders for example know their team orders and that Simon Gerrans and Philippe Gilbert are their respective main hopes for victory.

  56. 1354: 

    Contador's attack is brief and he is soon back in the peloton sharing a laugh with Spanish team-mate Valverde. Very much a case of trying to break the peloton up a bit, make everyone work a little harder and sap some more energy out of the legs.

  57. 1351: 

    The chasing nine, led by Japan's Beppu, hit the bottom of the slope. Denmark's Jakob Fuglsang also taking up the pace. Back in the peloton Alberto Contador, who is arguably the best climber in the world, stretches his legs on the slopes. Another interesting move with Spain already having Flecha in the second group.

  58. 1346: 

    We have 100km remaining - that's about two hours and 20 minutes of racing Hugh Porter tells us - and I can't tell you how happy that makes me. The tips of my fingers are flattening out already. No significant changes up front as the leading 11 hit the Cauberg again.

  59. 1343: 
    GET INVOVLED

    Rachael on Twitter: "Great to watch @MarkCavendish giving it his all and leading the peloton for over 100km, quality world champ! #bbccycling"

  60. 1341: 
    Cavendish abandons race

    Mark Cavendish finally abandons the race. He freewheels over the line, looking for a gap in the fence and then has to stop for a quick photo with fans before being led away. Over to you Mr Millar - will we get to hear from Cav in a short while? I'll keep you posted.

  61. 1340: 

    More insight from David Millar on BBC commentary: "Up to 200km you can feel fine and then all of a sudden your legs can go. Above 200km that's when you separate the men from the boys." On whether Jon Tiernan-Locke has the experience to win a 269km race, Millar adds: "It's a fair speculation. He's certainly got the engine but he doesn't have the experience of racing over this distance. He'll certainly get it over the next year or two."

  62. 1334: 

    Poor old Cav is very much on his own as he crawls up the Cauberg several minutes behind everyone else - although his pace is still probably quicker than I could go up if I was just starting out on the climb for the first time. Not a lot of fun to watch but he is still getting a terrific reception. David Millar expects him to drop out on this lap. No point in him carrying on.

  63. 1332: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Rich in Cardiff, via text on 81111: "After being sat on Caerphilly mountain last week, watching JTL command the two climbs the guy has to be within a shout. Hope he breaks away though as sprints are his Achilles ankle."

  64. 1331: 

    Seven laps to go then - that's 112km of racing left, which is a touch over 60 miles. Cummings's group is 1'50" behind the leaders while the peloton, with Belgium continuing to set the pace, is around 25 seconds behind them. This is all heating up nicely and may come back together a little sooner than anticipated. And once it does, expect more and more attacks.

  65. 1327: 

    The familiar 90 degree left-hander signifies the start of the Cauberg. The leading 11 are already half way up it as the chasing nine start their ascent and the peloton follows about 60 seconds later. British riders Luke Rowe and Jon Tiernan-Locke are up near the front. Spaniard Flecha is pulling the second bunch along.

  66. 1320: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Tom Lightbody on Twitter: "Great to watch @MarkCavendish slogging his guts out for the team today. The true sportsman, worthy of his year in the stripes."

  67. 1319: 

    Cavendish has fallen right to the back of the peloton - it's only a matter of time before he calls time on his race today. He is getting a tremendous ovation from all supporters as he trudges up the Belemerberg on his own. At the business end of the race, the chasing bunch of nine have closed the gap on the 11 leaders to 2'30". "This is a major slip up by the Dutch to miss that move," says David Millar on commentary. "It's their home worlds and they've missed both breaks."

  68. 1315: 

    Belgium have immediately put seven riders on the front of the peloton - they have Gianni Meersman in the group chasing the leaders but he's not the right man for them - their main man Philippe Gilbert is right up at the front, in the ear of his team-mates. "He'll be pretty frustrated," says David Millar. Others in the second group include France's Maxime Bouet, Michael Matthews of Australia, Switzerland's Michael Schar and Japan's Fumiyuki Beppu, not forgetting Cummings of course.

  69. 1310: 

    There are nine riders in this break who cross the finish line 3'28" behind the escapees. Whether it will stick or not is unclear, although they are moving clear of the peloton. Cummings very much involved. Looks like Cav's work is done and chapeau to the outgoing world champion. He's almost single-handedly pulled the peloton along for about 100km. Terrific effort.

  70. 1307: 

    It's all about positioning going into that left-hander at the bottom of the Cauberg when they get into the final couple of laps because that could make or break your race, says Millar on commentary as Cavendish starts to fall back. Spain's Juan Antonio Flecha, a Team Sky rider, makes a break but is immediately tracked by Britain's Steve Cummings.

  71. 1304: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Bobamysdad, via text on 81111: "Kind of uncomfortable watching Cav doing the domestique thing. Like watching Bruce Springsteen selling hot dogs. Sky have had their money's worth with a world champion all year, let him go!"

  72. 1303: 

    Time for the Cauberg again and the pace is very much pedestrian in comparison with what it will be in a couple of hours when we find out who has got anything left in their legs. Back in the peloton and Cavendish is still ploughing the furrow for the rest to follow.

  73. 1256: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Idris Thomas on Twitter: "He may not have had the Tour de France we wanted, or Olympic gold but Cav is honouring the jersey now." #bbccycling

  74. 1255: 

    Good effort by Isaichev who rejoins his breakaway companions as they start the second climb of the Belemerberg. First look at Tommy Voeckler. David Millar reveals that the Frenchman can speak perfect English and he used it to good effect to surprise one of his American team-mates who had spent one race berating him, thinking Voeckler wouldn't be able to understand.

  75. 1249: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Julian Prior on Twitter: "Will sales of rice cakes go through the roof now that David Millar has revealed they are the fuel of choice for elite cyclists?" #bbccycling

  76. 1246: 

    Defending world champion Cavendish quickly dropped backwards on the first ascent of the Cauberg but he is gritting his teeth and holding firm this time - and we get the first sighting of his team-mate Jon Tiernan-Locke - he is looking reasonably fresh tucked well back in the peloton and taking advantage of the natual slipstreaming. Bit of a problem for Russia's Isaichev in the leading bunch. He has to stop for a new front wheel and may have trouble rejoining the other 10.

  77. 1242: 

    Cav's efforts are paying dividends as he has taken one minute out of the leaders' advantage which is now around 4'30". Nine laps to go for the leaders who cross the line almost at the exact same time as the peloton hits the bottom of the Cauberg.

  78. 1237: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Mr Worldwide on Twitter: "Switching between #bbcf1 and #bbccycling. Soon Man U and Liverpool will be in the switch. I love Sunday."

    Simon Hughes on Twitter: "Crowds at the Cauberg are amazing! wish I was there. #bbccycling"

  79. 1236: 
    THAT'S INCREDIBLE!

    Sharp move by Cav who nearly gets decapitated by a sign. He's leading the peloton up the Belemerberg when he has to take evasive action to avoid a ridiculously long sign that some over-excited fan is dangling into the road. Cav shakes his head in disbelief before ploughing on.

  80. 1234: 

    Bit of a problem for race favourite Philippe Gilbert who has to swing back to his team car for a new back wheel. He quickly gets in the slipstream of his team car but must beware draughting for too long for fear of further angering that grumpy race commissaire.

  81. 1232: 

    Neither the Cauberg or the Belemerberg would test any of the riders if they were raced on their own - they are mere speed bumps in the road to the pros who are used to much stiffer climbs - but with 10 ascents of each, the altitude mounts up.

  82. 1229: 

    Here comes Cav back up to the front of the peloton - good effort from the Manxman to work his way through the peloton so quickly after climbing the Cauberg. David Millar reckons he won't make the end of the race, wonder how many circuits he will get through. The leading 11 are going up the other climb on the circuit, the slightly less taxing Belemerberg which is 900m in length with an average gradient of 5%.

  83. 1225: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Dave Johnson on Twitter: "I see Cav going to OPQS (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) as the out & out sprinter leaving Boonen for the spring classics."

    Adam Lancaster on Twitter: "People need to quit thinking Cav is going to win this. He wouldn't be on the front if there was even a 1% chance of that." #bbccycling

  84. 1222: 

    The leaders cross the finish line for the first time so they have 10 laps to go. Doesn't sound too much that, until you remember that each circuit is a fraction over 16km - so 160km to go then. The peloton sweeps round the left-hander at the bottom of the Cauberg. Cav still up at the front but dropping back with every pedal revolution. The Cauberg is only 1,200m long but has sections that are 16% and averages out at 10%. Wiggins ambles up with no bother while Froome, Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe and Cummings are all together.

  85. 1218: 

    A quick update from the junior men's road race which took place this morning. Slovenian Matej Mohoric took the title in a mass bunch sprint from Australian Caleb Ewan and Czech rider Josip Rumac. Four Brits finished in the sprint, recording the same time as the winner. Jonathan Dibben was fifth, Tao Geoghegan Hart 21st, Alex Peters 33rd and Germain Burton 36th.

  86. 1216: 

    And here come the leaders onto the bottom of the Cauberg for the first of 11 times - this and then 10 laps. The hill is lined with thousands of fans, the majority of whom are anxiously looking for Dutch representation in the leading bunch. They will of course be disappointed. Millar suggests that Cavendish won't finish the race because of the effort he has put in so far and may only do a couple of the 16km circuits before pulling out. He also says he'll try to get him in the BBC commentary box...no promises mind...

  87. 1213: 

    More insight from Millar on this break. He is happy that it has been pegged at around the 5'45" mark. He explains that the main bunch won't want to chase the escapees down too early because that only encourages more attacks off the front of the bunch. The idea is to time the capture as close to the finish as they dare and then set up their own rider to hopefully sprint for victory.

  88. 1208: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Aaron Nathaniel on Twitter: "Congratulations to Belgium for winning my "Best Lycra on Show" award this week. Columbia 2nd. USA rock bottom."

    Chris Evans on Twitter: "Sky need to let Cav go so he can fulfil his potential with a team fully working with them." #bbccycling

  89. 1206: 

    Cavendish is back on the front of the peloton - he really is burying himself for the team as they go up Hoogcruts, a 5.8% average gradient slope but the Dutch riders are not happy with Cav's efforts. They have stepped on the gas and stretched out the peloton in an instant. Interesting move from the home riders as they edge ever closer to the Limberg loop.

  90. 1200: 

    Millar also reckons we could see Wiggins going for the Giro d'Italia as well as the Tour de France in 2013. "It's an eccentric race and harder to control than the Tour," adds Millar. "It's just Italian and all over the shop!" The Giro is the first of three three-week races known as the Grand Tours - with the Vuelta a Espana the third. Thoughts to 81111 on text with you name or tweet #bbccycling

  91. 1157: 

    And, as if on cue, here's Millar on Cav's future: "The big question is will Team Sky release him? I think it's in theirs and his interests to release him. He's been an amazing world champion and an amazing asset to Team Sky but if he wants to leave they should let him because they've got so many other great riders." What's your thoughts?

  92. 1155: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Joshua Parkinson on Twitter: "Cav putting himself in the shop window today, and so far showing he is more than a sprinter." Good point well made Joshua. Cav looks set to leave Team Sky. Where do you see him going? #bbccycling

  93. 1154: 

    I can only continue to apologise for the breaks in commentary. I'm sure you all heard the Dutch voice - reckon he may well have been technical support. If it's not working give it a clout - isn't that the usual advice they give us? Anyway, Hugh and David are back on air. Let's hope the problems are sorted. Lead is 5'42" and the 11 out front are around 20km from the first ascent of the Cauberg.

  94. 1149: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Martin Davidson from Gravesend, via text on 81111: "Totally agree with D Millar, Cav's calling shots. I think Cav wants the rainbow again, don't be surprised it will finish in a sprint."

  95. 1145: 

    Cav is usurped at the front of the peloton by a Belgian rider as they go through the forest around five minutes behind the leading 11. Did I just see a stormtrooper?

  96. 1143: 

    The leaders are winding their way through a forest - I keep expecting an ewok to jump out. Some great insight from David Millar on commentary on gears and wheels.

    He also says: "Bradley is one of the most beautiful pedallers out there. There's something about him that is very elegant on the bike. [Alberto] Contador's climbing style is incredible. [Alejandro] Valverde looks cool on a bike. When I was a junior I used to adopt the style of a rider I liked."

  97. 1138: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Gareth Hockin on Twitter: "Learning to ride a bike while listening to the world champs......oh and I'm 23!! Generation Inspired."

    Slackers Peloton on Twitter: "Nice bit of helicopter ambient noise there #bbccycling very relaxing for a Sunday."

    Ed Moys on Twitter: Huge pressure on JTL today with such a world class team supporting him. Wiggins, Froome and Cav!" #bbccycling

  98. 1135: 

    Millar also says that there are two main reasons why he is not racing this year. Fatigue is the first and attending a meeting of Wada in St Petersburg last week was also a factor. "It was something I had to prioritise," he said. "I said I'd do the Olympics but have to miss the Worlds."

  99. 1133: 

    BBC Sport co-commentator David Millar on British tactics: "Cavendish is the road captain, taking control, making the calls and doing the dogsbody work for the first half of the race. Alex Dowsett will be along with Cav. Steve Cummings is a protected rider to let him be there at the end of the race. Chris Froome will probably try to go with anybody who goes with four laps to go."

  100. 1129: 

    "We will definitely solve these problems before we get to the Cauberg loop," BBC Sport commentator Hugh Porter assures us as his voice appears in my headphones.

  101. 1126: 

    Now there's a sight you won't see too often - Mark Cavendish leading the peloton up a hill. He's out of the saddle and stomping hard on his pedals as he tries to keep the pace high. Those following him seem satisfied with his effort because nobody is attempting to go past him.

  102. 1124: 

    The 207 riders who started the race will no doubt be relieved to learn that it's 69km down, just the 200km to go. That also means we've got about another 40km of racing around the Dutch countryside before we embark on 10 laps of a 16km loop around Limberg.

  103. 1121: 

    BBC Sport commentator Hugh Porter has apologised for the occassional lack of sound on commentary - "It's out of our control," he says, before the sound cuts again. Something to do with the internatinoal commentary circuit going down. Rest assured, we have people working to sort it out.

  104.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Jez Davison on Twitter: "Heart says Cav, head says Sagan or Gilbert. #bbccycling #roadrace"

  105. 1117: 

    And relax. Time to delve into the musette as the race settles down for a few kilometres. The ham sandwiches have long gone and I'm down to a banana...not good. A long train of Dutch riders racing just behind the front of the peloton as the race weaves through a large town.

  106. 1113: 

    The leaders are moving out to four minutes. American national champion Tim Duggan and his team-mate Alex Howes are in the leading bunch, which also features France's Jerome Coppel, Pablo Lastras Garcia of Spain, Winner Anacona Gomez of Colombia, Italy's Dario Cataldo, Slovenia's Luka Mezgec, Russia's Vladimir Isaichev, Uruguayan Fabricio Ferrari Barcelo and our earlier escapees Buts and Smukulis who have tagged on. Cavendish is pulling the peloton along with Wiggins riding third wheel.

  107. 1106: 

    As BBC Sport co-commentater David Millar points out there is nobody from Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium or Australia in the break which is no bad thing for those teams as they can form alliances to chase it down later in the race for their gold medal hopes. The peloton looks pretty relaxed he says.

  108. 1104: 

    The escape looks like sticking as many riders in the peloton decide to take a comfort break and the pace slackens off, allowing the leaders to open up a lead of thre eminutes and climbing. If you're new to road racing, fear not, it's not race over. The peloton will allow those out front to build a lead of several minutes before pegging them and then chasing down in the closing stages.

  109. 1059: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Bobamysdad, via text on 81111: "Since there is no wind, how is the windmill going so well? By the way, welcome David Millar, he brings a lot to the table."

    Gray from N Wales, via text on 81111: "Patriotism is fine, but I don't think JTL has even raced the distance, never mind at this level. Watch for Sagan coming out of a small group and catching Gilbert in the last 500m."

  110. 1057: 

    Cavendish works his way back up to the front of the peloton to try and chase down this move because Britain has no rider in the breakaway. About a dozen riders have escaped and have built an advantage of 40 seconds.

  111. 1054: 

    The United States and Spain are certainly represented in that leading group which is closing in on Smukulis and Buts - names as and when I get them. One of France's big guns tries to jump clear of the peloton in pursuit but Sylvain Chavanel is considered too big a threat and he is immediately brough back.

  112. 1050: 

    The front of the race is splintering again and there are numerous riders trying to form a breakaway group. BBC Sport co-commentater David Millar says: "It's going to form soon but teams won't want a group of 15 riders breaking because it can get dangerous."

  113.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Del Ward on Twitter: "Great to hear @millarmind commentating on the World Champs #bbccycling. Great insight from inside the peloton in tandem with Hugh Porter!"

  114. 1046: 

    Hige crowds lining the third climb of the day, the Lange Raarberg. When I say climb, it's not a big ramp - enough to make the commuter get a sweat on but a mere hump for the pros. A group of nine riders are just off the front of the peloton in pursuit of Smukulis and Buts.

  115. 1041: 

    World champion Mark Cavendish is helping set the pace of the peloton which has pegged the leading duo's advantage at 18 seconds. The work the Manxman is putting in a big effort and it's a sure sign that he is not going to be involved at the finish.

  116. 1038: 
    GET INVOLVED

    Andrew Bronte on Twitter: "Can't believe no-one has mentioned Purito Rodriquez yet. Definitely the most expolsive climber on the course!"

  117. 1036: 

    The riders hit the Adsteeg, a famous climb in the Netherlands which has featured in many national road races. Latvian Smukulis and Ukranian Buts are currently off the front of the peloton which is starting to fracture a litle.

  118. 1032: 

    Cath Wiggins will be happy to see hubby Brad coasting along towards the back of the peloton - still a long, long way to go in this race and he's not getting involed in all the argy-bargy up the front as the leaders jostle for position.

  119.  

    Bradley Wiggins' wife Cath on Twitter: "Don't like watching this #narrowroads #staysafe."

    Double Olympic gold medallist Geraint Thomas on Twitter: "Looking forward to watching this road race! Come on GB boys! Who's your money on guys?"

  120. 1026: 

    No bother for Oscar though who waits for the race official to drive off and then cosies up to his team car when a mechanic with a magic spanner leans out of the window and gets hold of the bike - it's called the magic spanner because the car then speeds up to give the rider a wee boost and he's soon back in the peloton giving a mouthful to Portugal's Sergio Paulinho. All part of the race.

  121. 1024: 

    BBC Sport's co-commentater David Millar on the Freire's crash: His team-mates didn't see him and because there are no race radios they may not know that he crashed. They are at the front of the peloton and they will be clueless to what has happened to Oscar. I don't agree with the commissaire - it was an unfortunate crash and he should be allowed to get back on."

  122. 1023: 
    OUCH!

    Oscar Freire, one of the Spanish favourites to win the race is on the deck. He collides with an Irish and Italian rider and looks a little dazed. A mechanic quickly appears and fixes his derailed chain and Oscar is draughting behind his team car to try and get back to the peloton. The race commissaire appears through the sunroof of his car and gives Freire a stern lecture about hitching a lift. Wild gesticulations from both parties.

  123. 1017: 

    A lot of riders wearing jackets this morning. The temperature on the continent was 10 degrees celsius when they left Maastricht and there's certainly a lot more cloud around than the women had for their race on Saturday. Roy and Lindeman are still away on their own although ttheir advantage is not significant enough to stick yet.

  124. 1013: 
    GET INVOLVED

    How do you see this race panning out then? Who can stop Gilbert? Will Britain get Tiernan-Locke in the mix? Could Steve Cummings provide a shock win? Get involved via Twitter #bbccycling or text me on 81111 - please put your name on all texts otherwise I can't use them. Also try to put cycling at the start of your message because it makes it so much easier to find.

  125.  

    BBC co-commentator David Millar on Twitter: "A year ago I was standing next to @MarkCavendish on the start line. Remember it vividly. Strange watching the GB boys roll out. Miss it."

  126. 1008: 

    There is a break. France's Jeremy Roy, who is renowned for being an aggressive rider, has jumped clear with Dutchman Bertjan Lindeman just before the first climb of the day up the cobbled streets of the Maasberg.

  127. 1006: 

    Among the other names in the picture are Spaniards Alejandro Valverde and Oscar Freire - Oscar is a three-time winner of this title and has said he will retire if he doesn't win. Australia's Simon Gerrans is also being touted as a threat while Slovakia's Peter Sagan showed at the Tour de France that he can cope with the hills.

  128. 1001: 

    BBC Sport co-commentator David Millar on the dual Belgian threat of Gilbert and sprinter Tom Boonen: "They both want to win it so much. They've probably gone in with the tactic of if you get in a break Philippe you can go for the win, but if it's all together, you have to work for Tom."

  129. 0959: 

    The finish atop the Cauberg is one that many riders will be familiar with because it is used in the one-day Amstel Gold race - a race that Belgium's Philippe Gilbert has won twice, in 2010 and 11. Gilbert excels in these kinds of race which feature short climbs throughout the race and towards the finish and is expected to be in the mix at the end.

  130. 0954: 

    The race winds its way through 100km or so of Dutch countryside before the riders embark on 10 laps of the 16.1km circuit around Limberg, which features the climbs of the Belemerberg and Cauberg hills. There are attacks galore going off the front of the peloton with Dutch and American riders pushing on. No significant break yet though.

  131. 0950: 

    Jon Tiernan-Locke showed his potential by winning the 2012 Tour of Britain earlier this month. BBC Sport co-commentater David Millar told me that "there are no expectations on Jon because this is a new level of racing for him". The riders are just rolling out of the start area in Maastricht with defending champion Mark Cavendish in the number one jersey leading the bunch alongside Wiggins.

  132. 0940: 

    So, if it's not going to be Cav that the British team will be trying to help to victory, just who should you be cheering on? It's not one for Tour de France and Olympic time trial champion Bradley Wiggins - he too has told BBC Sport that he is very much riding in a support role. Likewise Tour de France runner-up and Olympic time trial bronze medallist Chris Froome. The Brits are riding for Jon Tiernan-Locke.

  133. 0935: 
    LIVE NOW

    Live television pictures are just starting up on this very webpage, or you can tune in via the red button. The race itself starts at 0945 so you've got 10 minutes to get your supplies in for the day because it's going to be a long one. If the riders average 40km/h, we will be cheering our winner over the line in a touch over six hours from now.

  134. 0934: 

    The race organisers have not been kind to Cav and designed a course that is not likely to finish in the kind of huge bunch sprint that he usually excels in. At 269km, or 168 miles if you prefer, it's a long race but what will trouble the finest road sprinter in the world is the 10 climbs of the Cauberg - a punchy 1,200m hill in the final couple of kilometres of each of the 10 laps, which features gradients of 16%. The race is just not set up for pure sprinters.

  135. 0932: 

    Hello and welcome to live coverage of the men's road race at the 2012 World Championships, which is taking place in Limburg, Netherlands.

  136.  
  137. 0930: 

    On Saturday, Britain's 2011 road race world champion Mark Cavendish told BBC Sport: "I can't win. I haven't got a chance so I will be in a support role for the other guys in the team. I'm here out of respect for the jersey and whether you can win or not you go and defend the jersey."

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