Cav is the man for the Isle of Man

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He's already one of the world's finest sportsmen - but when he dons his Commonwealth Games cycling top, it gives Mark Cavendish wings.

Step forward, the flying "Manx Missile".

Cycling's master sprinter is not alone among those home athletes who reckon there's something that inspires them just that bit more when every four years they can step beyond competing for Great Britain and adopt the colours of their 'real' home team.

Cavendish has won a world road race title for Britain but still reckons his 2006 Commonwealth Games scratch race victory for the Isle of Man in Melbourne, winning a rare gold for the little island which he still calls home, offered him even more pride.

"It's home and it will always be home. Riding with the guys and girls I grew up with is always special," reckons the 37-year-old, who was left smarting after not being given the chance this year to break his shared all-time record for Tour de France stage wins.

He may not have been able to get in Deceuninck-Quick-Step's Tour team but for his self-governing home island, a little British Crown Dependency of 85,000 souls nestling between Northern Ireland, England and south-west Scotland in the Irish Sea, there'll always be a place for its sporting king.

'Cav', who's down only to compete in the road race, has also been seen floating around the velodrome in London where the track racing is taking place - so watch this space.

For as another fine Isle of Man cyclist Peter Kennaugh, now a fixture in the commentary box, once put it: "The Commonwealth Games are bigger than the Olympics in the Isle of Man."

This shouldn't be forgotten. The smaller the British team - think Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man - the more important the Games are to the island.

Quirks of history have it that the British Isles can field seven 'home' teams at the Games - Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England, plus those three islands which aren't part of the UK nor British Overseas Territories, but have the status of "territories for which the United Kingdom is responsible".

Any which way, the teams are fiercely proud of competing under their own flag.

Jake Wightman and Laura Muir, stars at the recent world athletics championships, say running for Scotland means everything to them, while Geraint Thomas, former Tour de France champ and recent podium finisher, felt winning the 2014 Commonwealth road race in Welsh red was an unbeatable feeling.

"It meant so much - just to be stood on the top step of the podium hearing the Welsh national anthem. I'd never had that before," Thomas, who'd heard God Save the Queen played five times as a GB champion at Olympics and world championships, told the BBC.

Unlike Cavendish's star power, Jersey and Guernsey don't have any stellar names likely to medal but they can lord it over their Channel Islands neighbours Alderney, Sark and Herm, which are too small to have their own Commonwealth Games federations.

And there's always that glorious possibility that Jersey might enjoy a reprise of the moment at the Gold Coast in 2018 when their men's triples team in the lawn bowls beat the top-seeded hosts on the Gold Coast.

"You can imagine how popular we were," noted the Jersey chef de mission dryly - but sometimes, delightfully, it happens.

How could anyone begrudge the team with one gold medal in its history a victory over the nation with 932?

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