The 26-year-old (right) produced a trademark burst to cross the line, ahead of Australia’s Matt Goss and German Andre Greipel, after Team GB’s eight-man team had set the pace at the front of the peloton throughout the 266-kilometre race and then delivered Cavendish to the front when it mattered most.
The Isle of Man speedster was quick to pay tribute to his team-mates – Steve Cummings, Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins, Jeremy Hunt, David Millar, Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas – who all played their part in him becoming Britain’s first world road champion since Tom Simpson in 1965.
“This has been three years in the making. When this course was announced we put a plan together to come with the best group of guys to come and bring the rainbow jersey back to Britain,” Cavendish said.
“The guys have worked so hard to collect points throughout the season to get eight riders here – they rode incredible and I am so proud.
“A world title is something special and I’m going to wear the rainbow jersey with pride over the next year.”
Cavendish won the 2011 Tour de France green points jersey earlier in the summer and is now favourite to deliver what would be Britain’s first gold of next year’s Olympic Games.
Cavendish added: “London 2012 is the biggest goal for us, and hopefully we can make the double with the Olympics next year.
“The Olympics is different, because you’ve only got five riders and the course next year will be more difficult than here. But I’m going to prepare as best as I can for it.”