There is a scene in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive where Ryan Gosling’s existential character, sublimely credited only as Driver, lectures a future accomplice about just exactly what he can offer: “I give you a five minute window, anything happens in that five minutes and I am yours, no matter what.” The Heroes immediately imagined this speech as re-spoken by a Manx powerhouse who could be simply credited as Sprinter, but is known to the Heroes as Mark “Honey Badger” Cavendish: “I give you five hundred meters, anything happens in that five hundred meters and I am yours, no matter what.” The Heroes like to think Cavendish is propelled by the same sort of existential bravado that fuels the rogues of Drive, Le Samurai, or Bullitt. Like these men apart, there is a special brand of pressure for an elite sprinter. The precision and command needed to come out a half wheel ahead make the fastest men volatile, arrogant, and petty; their rarefied ability to deliver in those last five hundred meters makes them irresistibly magnetic.
After six hours in the saddle on a 266 km circuit, the short climbs near the finish could leave the stripes on the back of a Classics man like Gilbert, but most think the Worlds could come down to that five hundred meter window. With the experience and horsepower of Wiggins, Millar, and the winning personality of Geraint Thomas, Ben Hero expects the Honey Badger will claim his first rainbow jersey.