The pressure on Team GB to repeat what they achieved at London 2012 is immense, particularly when it comes to cycling. Following a weekend Well we are all waking up this morning after not just Super Saturday but also Super Sunday. Our blogger take a look at British Cycling’s success on the track as well as looking why we haven’t done as well on road.
Good stuff on the track!
For the men’s Team Sprint Team GB smashed their rivals to pieces. Phil Hindes, Jason Kenny and Callum Skinner went into the event as 15-1 outsiders yet managed to get an Olympic record while beating the favoured opposition Team New Zealand by 0.1 of a second. This clearly gee’d Kenny and Skinner up who last night went head to head in the Gold Medal individual sprint race last night only for Kenny to prove his dominance and to take his sixth Olympic Gold with two straight wins.
Bradley Wiggins got his much wanted 5th Gold from his Olympic career from the men’s team pursuit. Racing old rivals Australia the four man team had spectators on the edge of their seats as they trailed their rivals for the first three minutes. This race is one of Team GB’s Gold must haves and they would not have been happy if the Aussies beat them. Sure enough Wiggins, Owain Doull, Ed Clancy, and Steven Burke got their prize and another world record.
The women soon followed in the women’s Team Pursuit. Breaking a world record set by Team USA only hours before, Joanna Rowsell Shand, Laura Trott, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald fought hard. Team USA with their ground breaking new bikes were up by over a second halfway through the nail biting race but Team GB’s four clawed it back and beat their opponents in the Gold Medal race by nearly a second at the line.
In the women’s Keiron, a somewhat strange race format developed for Japanese betting, Becky James came from the back of the peloton to snatch Silver.
At the time of writing there are a number of races to go, and thankfully they are on during times that won’t leave you sleepless before work! Expect more medals from Laura Trott, her fiancée Jason Kenny and Mark Cavendish…
Cav has had an amazing cycling career and is widely reckoned to be the best paid pro cyclist in the world. In Beijing he lost a chance at a medal and apparently swore never to do track again. Coming toward the end of his career he seems to have had a change of heart. Even before he accidently won his first Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France earlier this year, he was planning on racing the Olympic Omnium. Rumours even have it that he claims Wiggins squeezed him out of the Pursuit team. At the time of writing he’s on a charge on the Omnium and if all goes well he could well be on the podium.
We must leaven this with a dose of reality – the Omnium is fiercely competitive with a large number of riders who have a real chance at getting on the podium. While Cav is showing very good form, a lot could stand in his way.
With the road cycling, UK cycling enthusiasts have learned to have high expectations. Being the team to beat it seems that the road cycling team don’t quite meet them. The conditions weren’t favourable to them either, both from the weather’s point of view and the routes themselves.
The weather added insult to injury for the women’s time trial where Team GB’s Lizzie Armistead should have had a shot at the podium. Emma Pooley was Team GB’s best hope, coming out of retirement for the race, but she ended up coming in two minutes off the best time in 14th place. Experts suggest that the route was not a climber’s route but one better suited to the outright time triallist. Pooley is a climbing specialist and if there were more climbs in the race? She may have gone home with a medal.
The lack of climbs possibly accounted for Chris Froome’s Time Trial Bronze. Fresh from winning his third Yellow Jersey on the Tour de France, Froome was apparently saving himself in the men’s road race for the event. He was beaten soundly by time trial specialist Fabian Cancellara – who Froome had given a beating in the Tour de France time trial only a few weeks before…
Lizzie Armistead survived the carnage of the women’s road race where The Netherlands’ Ellen Van Dijk crashed so badly she ended up in Intensive Care in hospital. Her excuse for underperforming was that she had missed several drugs tests and was under investigation – this is widely held to be her fault in terms of being disorganised. Though without doubt clean the investigation didn’t help her head.
As to the men’s Team GB road race? In many ways it is good that Geriant Thomas only got a few good bruises when he wiped out in the same breakaway that took out race leader Vincenzo Nibali. Froomey seems to have tried too little too late, and lagged badly behind the eventual winner, Greg Van Avermaet.
It is very hard to criticise a team which is winning so many medals, breaking records and has been instrumental in seeing Team GB climb to second in the rankings. To that extent watching British Cycling thrash its opponents is compelling viewing worth the late nights / early mornings.
However, after the dust has settled and the pool is back to being blue, I am sure that British Cycling will be reflecting and planning on how to ensure the £30 million a year funding it receives guarantees an even bigger gold rush in Tokyo 2020 and in 2024, where the contenders to host are Paris, LA, Rome and Budapest.