Why I Feel Sorry for Cav

This may come as a shock to some people, but I genuinely feel for Mark Cavendish. He put aside aspirations of a Tour de France green jersey to help Sky team mate Brad Wiggins win the coveted maillot juane. Who can forget this image from this years Tour?

Photo: © Bettini Photo

Humping bidons in the rainbow jersey. Not something you see to often.

So Cav plays the ever faithful team mate in the Tour de France, knowing full well he would be repaid at the Olympics. So he thought.

There was lots of talk before the race that Team Great Britain would drag Cav over Box Hill 9 times and then onto the final bunch sprint. Here, Cav would do what he does, and blow the field away and Great Britain would go mad. Now I am no road cycling genius, but even I could see that there was only one way to combat Cav, make sure he wasn’t there at the end in a bunch sprint. The way to do that, make sure the break stays away. And guess what, the break stayed away, and Cav was no where to be seen. Just after the race, Cavendish was reported to have said…

“The guys all sat there in the tent absolutely spent. We did everything we could. The crowd was tremendous the whole way around, but the Aussies just raced negatively.” Now, I am willing to let that one go through to the keeper. The realisation that a gold medal that he probably thought was a near certainty, had gone to Alexander Vinokourov, was just sinking in. He had just ridden 250kms. The blood was still coursing through his veins. He was hyped up. It will be interesting to see what he says in the next few days.

Now, what Daniel Lloyd said, I will dissect. It is reported he had this to say after the race…

“They needed more help, they should have got it from Germany first and foremost because they were only here for the sprint,” Lloyd told the BBC.

“Mark mentioned Australia, he was right, Stuart O’Grady was in that early move, some very big names went across, he’s a class act, he’s won some huge races in his time but he was never going to win the gold medal at the end of it – or very [doubtful] – so you could say also they should have gotten behind and had a little go at a medal with Matt Goss, he’s an amazing sprinter, second in the world championships. They were let down a little bit by other teams.

Ok, so Team Great Britain needed more help? Really? Has he lost his mind? Who is going to help the strongest team in the race? Who also have the fastest sprinter! Why would the Aussies chase, they had a man in the break!

Stuart O’Grady was never going to win a gold medal. He got a hell of a lot closer than any of team GB. And I am willing to bet that if you had told Lloyd it would be Vino taking gold pre race, he would have laughed in your face.

Cavendish also said …

The team were incredible. They left everything out on the road. I am so proud of them. We didn’t expect any help. We rode the race we wanted to ride. We couldn’t pull the group back on Box Hill. Other teams were content that if they didn’t win, we wouldn’t win. We expected it. If you want to win, you’ve to take it to them.

So they knew what was going to happen, and yet they are complaining they didn’t get any help? You can’t have it both ways boys.

I have a few theories as to what killed off the Team GB chances.

1. No race radios. There is a hell of a lot of talk around pro cycling and race radios. The riders want them apparently. The teams want them. But I think we saw last night just what can happen when there is no coaching from team cars. An interesting comment from Stuey O’Grady…

“I was telling the guys [on the Australian team] last night, ‘Without radios, most of those blokes are just sheep. They haven’t got a director telling them what to do.’ They are at the Olympics … I was using a bit of experience and keeping them motivated.’’

There were a few times last night you saw O’Grady talking to the guys in the break. That is what experience gets you.

2. Smaller teams. It was always going to be difficult for Team GB to control a 250km road race with only 5 men in the team. And only 4 of them doing any work at the front. It isn’t the Tour de France where you have 9 riders in a team. The fact that first Froome and then Wiggins blew up shows just how hard they had to work.

3. Arrogance. This one caused some firey tweets last night, but I stand by it. I think up until the last climb up Box Hill, Team GB just assumed they would reel in the break, just like they had done at will in the Dauphine and Tour de France. Up until that point it was the usual tempo riding by Team GB. You could nearly tell when they realised they were in strife. Suddenly heads were starting to bob and shoulders were starting to roll around. It was like they were saying “oh oh” with out vocalising it.

The reaction on Twitter as the race finished was interesting as well. There was quite a bit of rubbish about a doper winning the gold. Sadly, Vino is one of the guys that has served his time and come but, but with out any contrition. He never addresses dopeage. He deflects the questions. Much like Brad Wiggins did a few times in the Tour de France, but with out the foul mouthed tirade attached. I pointed out to one English fan in a flurry of DMs on Twitter, Team GB has an ex doper in their team. The reply, “He didn’t win!” Sweet baby jesus.

So, good luck to Vino. He showed so panache and won gold. I should point out that I made some comments about him doing a deal with Rigoberto Urán on the run into the finish. I was just having a laugh after the business with Vino doing a deal to win the 2010 Liège–Bastogne–Liège. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best time to do it. Vino was a worthy winner last night.

So, now to watch the womens road race tonight. Shorter at 140kms and smaller teams, 3 maximum. It should be a cracker. Lets just hope the TV coverage is slightly better. Last nights coverage was a dogs breakfast!

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5 Responses to Why I Feel Sorry for Cav

  1. w00dsy says:

    If you want a gold medal get up the front and beat everyone else fair and square. None of this team bullshit we see at other places. They are so used to having their lazy arse dragged to the end by guys who receive no glory that they seem to forget it should be an individual sport.

  2. Mick O says:

    Too bad it’s not like swimming, where they have 8 other chances to medal. Just ride backwards,

  3. Digger says:

    Great article. Found the race entertaining to watch and shows you how without race radios, classic style races such as this favors the brave. Shame Spartacus crashed towards the end, my money was on him. Two breaks, not being chased down earlier, brits just rode too conservatively, strategy too well known and played into the hands of those willing to take a gamble. I know some disagree, but I was one who thought o’grady was in with a chance – he’s a great classics rider and it was his last Olympics!

  4. Duke6amer says:

    Good read norbs.
    Yep the biggest problem team GB had, as you sort of eluded to was they only had a single plan so it was do or die, glory or bust. Of course everyone knew this was the case so they were sort of stuck with it, so to compensate they tried to out psych all the other teams prior to the race. We know now it was a plan destined for failure. The Aussies had the right approach with multiple plans & scenarios which I am sure would of worked out better if they had of got someone into the 2nd break that bridged to the leaders late in the race. But as Gerro & Cadel eluded too they got caught out on the narrow roads when it happened & missed the chance. Stuey was toast by the end & that’s why the 3 medals went to the riders who bridged across late, they had fresher legs. I actually think Team GB should be more upset with Germany than the Aussies as they were the only other team with a singular plan of having a sprinter who may have taken it from Cav. Germany left it too late to help so it was only a token gesture to Team GB by the time they did. But then when would Germany ever help the Brits.
    Feel sorry for Cav but that’s what makes the Olympic RR so exciting, there is no form guide to work out the winner so to it’s a stick your finger in the air type of race.

  5. biker8337 says:

    I think one of the main reason team GB screwed the pooch was there were no Australians (Rogers, Porte) to drag their arses around the course

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