It was the first medal of the games to be presented, and it was going to be presented to Cavendish. He was going to win the bunch sprint out of a field containing monsters like Griepel, Sagan and Goss. He was going to thank Wiggins for his work just as Bradley had done to Cav only a week ago.
That’s how I was supposed to be, anyway….
Until it didn’t go as planned.
Gutted. After 250km, less than a minute to 20guys. My guys were INCREDIBLE & there was nothing more we could do. Victims of our own success.
— Mark Cavendish (@MarkCavendish) July 28, 2012
Early on in the race, Stuart O’Grady initiated what most thought would be the day’s doomed breakaway. Little did anyone realize that when the group solidified into a 26 rider move, absent any of Team Great Britain, that it would be the undoing of the Manx Missile. Add to the mix that race radios were absent, which left the composition of the break in doubt, and the 5 man teams as opposed to the usual 8 or 9.
Cancellara put in a brutal dig, and looked to have things in hand but overcooked a corner and took himself out of the race. Various attacks were made and countered, but the one that counted was made with 8K to go.
Rigoberto Uran shot out of the break, taking Vinokourov with him. The two managed to work together to keep away from the break, with Vino making a brilliant move at 140 meters to go. As Uran looked over his left shoulder, anticipating a move from the Kazak, but Vino slipped around him to the right and motored clear to the gold. With the break containing names like Nibali, Valverde, Phinney, Cancellara, Brajkovic, Gilbert, Gesink, L.L. Sanchez and Fuglsang, there was more horsepower than Team GB could handle. Trying to control a 255k race from start to finish with only 5 guys, 4 of which just came off a demanding Tour de France, is an impossible task. And so the break held 51 seconds into the last 7 or so kilometers.
It was an excellent race overall with suspense to the line and a surprise winner. But who won and who lost?
- Vino – Gold medal. Obviously.
- Norway – Alexander Kristoff takes bronze, and the first Norwegian cycling medal in about a quarter century.
- Taylor Phinney – 4th place for the youngster. A good showing.
- Spectators – No ticket needed to get into this event.
- Team GB – Not even a podium place to show for controlling the race the entire day.
- Cavendish – The race course was designed for him, he has (arguably) the strongest team out there, and he got nothing at all.
- Cancellara – Possible fractured collarbone puts his TT on Wednesday in serious doubt.
- Team Australia and Germany – Anonymous for much of the day. Neither worked much on the front (relying on Team GB to close things down) and both had marquis contenders.
All that being said, one can only hope that the women’s race and TTs are as interesting and unpredictable as the men’s road race.