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Team GB’s worlds hopes hang on Cavendish

Mark Cavendish and Lizzie Deignan (formerly Armitstead) will lead the British team at world championships in Qatar this October.

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LONDON (AFP) — British sprint ace Mark Cavendish and controversial women’s world road race champion Lizzie (formerly Armitstead) Deignan will lead their respective teams at next month’s world championships in Qatar, Team GB announced Wednesday.

It should be an interesting atmosphere as Cavendish, who finally achieved his aim of winning an Olympic medal in Rio last month with omnium silver on the track, criticized Deignan for missing three dope tests, placing her own Olympic challenge in the balance.

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Deignan, who married fellow cyclist Philip Deignan last weekend, was allowed to compete in the Games road race after winning an appeal to have the first missed test annulled, but she failed to win a medal in Rio.

“Did she dope? No and I don’t believe she did. Was it an administrative error? Yes it was, absolutely? Was it her fault? Yes it was, absolutely,” Cavendish told Sky Sports prior to his event at the Olympics.

Iain Dyer, British Cycling’s head coach, said the Doha course is ideally suited for Cavendish, winner of 30 stages at the Tour de France, to add to his 2011 road race world title. “In the men’s race, Mark heads to Doha as one of the clear favorites given the nature of the course and he will have a strong team around him,” said Dyer. “The depth of talent available to us on the road this year has been exceptional, and I believe we have picked strong squads for all the races we are entering.”

On Wednesday, Cavendish sprinted to second place in stage 2 of Giro del Toscana in Italy, behind Irishman Sam Bennett.

Cavendish’s fellow Olympians Steve Cummings, Ian Stannard, and Geraint Thomas are included on the short list along with current national champion Adam Blythe. The championships run from October 9-16.

Elite men’s road race (nine places qualified): Adam Blythe, Mark Cavendish, Stephen Cummings, Alex Dowsett, Dan McLay, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift, Geraint Thomas, Scott Thwaites.

Elite women’s road race (eight places qualified): Alice Barnes, Hannah Barnes, Lizzie Deignan, Danielle King, Laura Massey, Annasley Park, Abby Mae Parkinson, Eileen Roe.