Sunday, July 29, 2012

All or nothing for Cav and the Brits - and thus they choose nothing

Well it was certainly an interesting race. No radios, small teams, narrow roads and tactics as plain as the nose on Postman Pat's face (my kids like to think Wiggo looks like Postman Pat. Not sure who's the black and white cat, though). Unsurprisingly it all went exactly as expected - everyone attacked the Brits, yet the Brits stuck resolutely, doggedly, determinedly to Plan A. Get Cavendish to the line, first.

So what went wrong? Well David Millar reckons it was Cav's fault, basically, although he didn't say that exactly:  

Millar Left With No Complaints Despite Cavendish Missing Olympic Gold |
With 50 kilometres to race and just one ascent of Box Hill remaining, the British seemed in control. A break had gone clear but after over five hours of racing, the gap was less than one minute as legs began to tire. However new impetus was added when a second contingent of riders attacked on the climb to create a 33-man group.

"We were always working at Mark's pace, so we couldn't react to those things and that was never our plan," said Cavendish's teammate David Millar.

The British team had been clear over its race strategy, telegraphing its tactics in a press conference last week. It was all for Cavendish, with David Brailsford saying, the sprinter was "plan A and all the rest of the letters of the alphabet," too.
My emphasis there, but I would deduce from that quote that Cav's pace wasn't ideal, then?

So what did Cav think went wrong?

Cavendish Misses Olympic Glory In Men's Road Race |
"We did everything we could. The crowd was tremendous the whole way around, but the Aussies just raced negatively. 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."
My emphasis, again. It wasn't Cav's fault, nor his one-idea Team of champions. It was the Aussies. Having O'Grady orchestrating the first break and coming, umm, 6th, plus Rogers trying his own attack was clearly not a positive in Mark's eyes, who came, umm, 29th.

And the truth? Well there is more than a little truth in the other teams wanting to negate the Manxman's sprint and thus being prepared to leave their own sprinters stranded, waiting for the Brits to close the gap. But they all wanted a medal, too. Trouble was, no-one wanted to tow Cav (and Greipel) up to the front so they can fight it out for 1st and 2nd, either. It was a stalemate.

And good on Vino for attacking and closing his checkered yet always interesting career with Olympic gold.