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?
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!