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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, July 29, 2012

Date published:
July 29, 2012, 1:00 BST
  • Cancellara heads to hospital after Olympic road race

    Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)
    Article published:
    July 28, 2012, 18:08 BST
    Cycling News

    Swiss rider crashed late in race

    Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland had hoped to be on the podium after the men's road race at the 2012 London Olympics, but instead ended up in the hospital on Saturday afternoon. A crash with about 15 km to go crushed his plans and put his ride in Wednesday's time trial into question.

    Cancellara was in the lead group, near the front, when he either misjudged a left-hand turn or braked improperly. He flew into the barriers, landing hard on his right shoulder, with eventual gold-medal winner Alexander Vinokourov right behind him.

    The Swiss rider got back up and onto his bike, but was soon back in the field, and then out the back to the race doctor's car.  He had not only lost a chunk of skin on his right elbow, but was riding mostly one-handed, holding his right arm to his body in a way that suggested a fractured collarbone or injured shoulder.

    He finally crossed the finish line about five minutes after Vinokourov, although not last. There he sought solace with a team staff member, as he sobbed in pain and disappointment. Cancellara was then put in an ambulance and taken to hospital.

    Cancellara suffered a quadruple fracture of that same right collarbone earlier this year, when he crashed in the Tour of Flanders. He missed nearly two months of racing whilst recovering. In the Tour de France he won the prologue and wore the leader's yellow jersey for seven stages.

  • Millar left with no complaints despite Cavendish missing Olympic gold

    David Millar parks his bike before the start of the race
    Article published:
    July 28, 2012, 18:40 BST
    Daniel Benson

    Other nations work to derail Britain's plan

    As Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) drew to a halt on the Mall following the elite men's road race, the realisation of winning an Olympic gold medal sinking in, the British road contingent began to trickle in.

    The home nation came into the race as the favourites, determined to help land Mark Cavendish an Olympic gold to match his rainbow stripes. However Great Britain's "dream team" ended the race empty handed, despite controlling the peloton for the majority of the race. Its grasp of affairs was broken only when it truly mattered, in the closing stages of the 250-kilometre race, as Cavendish was left without a medal for the second Olympic Games in a row.

    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.

    The team's tactics were no secret but the same was also true of its opposition, who were always going to aim at tiring out the five-man team.

    "But I think teams a lot of teams were just launching their strongest riders up the road to just tire us...

  • Vinokourov goes into retirement with Olympic gold

    Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) stands for the national anthem.
    Article published:
    July 28, 2012, 19:12 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Lack of radios helped Kazakhstan's captain succeed

    In the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Alexandre Vinokourov made the winning breakaway in the elite men's road race with two of his German trade teammates and had to settle for a silver medal. After one failed attempt in Athens and missing the Beijing Games due to a doping suspension, the cagey captain of Team Kazakhstan at last capped off his checkered career with an Olympic gold medal in London on Saturday.

    He confirmed that he still plans to hang up his wheels after the Games.

    Vinokourov, 38, was close to retirement after breaking his femur in the 2011 Tour de France, but returned for the 2012 season for several nationalistic reasons: his Astana team needed his points to assure it a place in the World Tour, he hoped to foster the development of his young teammates, and he and his country desired an Olympic gold medal.

    Still racing with a metal plate fixed to his femur, Vinokourov has battled through the long recovery and pain to return to the pinnacle of cycling in London. "After so many crashes, returning to cycling was difficult for me," he said. "I was still hoping for a good result. My family and my parents were behind me the entire time."

    Coming back to competition three months after his broken leg, Vinokourov seemed to have written off ascending to the level which yielded him past victory in stage races such as the Vuelta a Espana, Dauphiné Libéré, Paris-Nice and Tour de Suisse, and Classics such as the Amstel Gold Race and Liège - Bastogne - Liège in addition to four stages of the Tour de...

  • Kristoff bridges 28-year gap for Norway

    Alexander Kristoff took Norway's first cycling medal since 1984.
    Article published:
    July 28, 2012, 20:27 BST
    Daniel Benson

    First cycling medal since Dag Otto Lauritzen in Los Angeles

    Alexander Kristoff (Norway) won Norway's first Olympic cycling medal since Dag Otto Lauritzen's bronze in 1984, as he finished in third place in London on Saturday.

    Kristoff, 25, formed part of the early break in the men's road race, escaping in a 12-man move before the first climb of Box Hill. It looked as though the Norwegians were setting an early marker for their leader Edvald Boasson Hagen but Kristoff was later joined by Norway's third teammate Lars Petter Nordhaug when the lead group swelled to 33 riders.

    "I didn't expect to get the medal. My job was to help Edvald if he came to the front. I would try to go in the early breaks but at the end he was not there and I could go for my own chance. I felt good in the sprint so it was a little bit of a shame it wasn't for first place, but of course a medal is great," Kristoff said at the finish.

    Kristoff's medal ride was all the more impressive as not only was he the only rider from the original break to make the podium, but he was dropped on one of the final ascents of Box Hill.

    "On the second last lap of Box Hill I was dropped from the group, but I managed to make it back on with some other guys and on the last lap I managed to stay on. I was suffering every time but I was lucky."

    With Vinokurov and Uran escaping from the break and set to fight out the battle for gold and silver, the competition behind turned towards the bronze medal. Kristoff, who races for Katusha, came through to snatch the final podium spot.

    "We were getting time checks and when I saw it was one minute and we were holding that gap then I knew this was the final group. After Box Hill I was only thinking about my sprint - maybe too much. I was not following any moves, but if I was following the moves maybe I would have no medal at all."

  • Stevens making best of single Olympic opportunity

    Evelyn Stevens (Team Specialized-lululemon)
    Article published:
    July 28, 2012, 21:28 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Strong USA team looking to animate road race

    Team USA's Evelyn Stevens has just one chance at an Olympic medal in 2012, and while she is disappointed to not be selected for the time trial, she aims to animate the women's road race on Sunday.

    "I think we're going to be really aggressive," she told Cyclingnews. "It's an opportunity for women's cycling to be showcased and be seen by people from around the world who never watch women's cycling. We all know that, and we want to show the world how exciting our racing is."

    At last year's world championships, the second most publicized women's race, there was much criticism heaped upon the women for negative racing, but Stevens is confident that tomorrow's Olympic race will be quite different. "It's a shame so many people focus on last year's Worlds. It's such the exception - there are so many other races that aren't like that. It was the strategy of all the major teams then, but if you look at races like Exergy or any World Cup race, it's always good. It's never riders just sitting in waiting. I think this will be more like a World Cup, it will be exciting."

    As far as strategies, Stevens said it will be an unpredictable race. "You never know until you start racing, but it's a heavy course.

    "Germany and the Netherlands are strong, and you can never discount Italy - there are a lot of strong teams out there, but we have two veterans - Amber and Kristin. Kristin has two Olympic road races and Amber one. Shelley and I are new at the Games, but not new riders, so we have a nice mix.

    "It's going to be so cool. I've never raced anything like it, so I'm not sure what it will be like. I've watched videos of previous Olympic road races to get a sense of how it might go.

    It was a goal for Stevens to qualify for both events in London, but she needed to make the top five at last year's world...

  • Americans back in Olympic mix with Phinney

    Taylor Phinney (BMC) is a keen fan of long socks
    Article published:
    July 29, 2012, 0:37 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Fourth place best result for USA since 1996

    Since the Summer Olympic Games last took place on US soil, the American team has had trouble both attracting its top riders for the Olympic Games road race and coming away with results. That all changed on Saturday when Team USA was represented in every move and Taylor Phinney was narrowly defeated in the sprint for bronze by Norwegian Alexander Kristoff.

    Phinney was disappointed to miss out on the medals, but his team was proud of the result and satisfied that they were one of the main teams to animate the race, even if they missed the final two-man split when Alexander Vinokourov escaped to win against Rigoberto Uran.

    "Some would call fourth the worst place to arrive at the Olympics, but I won't focus on that," Phinney said. "I'll get over it but first I have to thank the team."

    With Mike Sayers, a full-time director with the BMC Racing team, at the helm of the team car and USA Cycling's VP of Athletics Jim Miller at his side, the team played out its tactics perfectly - only luck and timing were against them.

    "The riders came prepared to execute today and the race played out like we thought it would," said Miller. "When we selected this team we had a tactic in mind for this course and all day long everyone rode a great race. Timmy [Duggan] got in the break right away; that was our first goal. Then when we got onto the circuits we had Tejay [van Garderen] and Taylor covering who was going up Box Hill the entire nine laps. We had [Chris] Horner with us, but he had a lot of mechanicals and was coming in and out of the...

  • Olympic road race: spectacle or disaster?

    The peloton flashes past Buckingham Palace.
    Article published:
    July 29, 2012, 2:40 BST
    Laura Weislo

    Grand Tour vets shocked by number of spectators

    The popularity of cycling in Great Britain has rocketed since its near sweep of the 2008 Olympic track cycling, the many stage wins by Mark Cavendish and now the overall Tour de France victory of Bradley Wiggins. Yet the crush of fans who lined the course from London and the Box Hill circuit in the 2012 Olympic Games road race in London proved to be so enormous and unmanageable that it surprised and frightened even the most hardened Tour veterans.

    Although the peloton only suffered a few crashes, one involving a photographer who was in the road and the one of Fabian Cancellara which was pilot error in a turn, there were more dangers than what were apparent to the audience following on television.

    Australia's Michael Rogers felt the crowds should have been controlled better. "No one expected that amount of people on the roadside. There were people in the road taking photos. It should have been marshalled a lot better. On the positive side I’ve never seen so many people at a bike race so that’s the way it is."

    Team USA's Chris Horner highlighted the fact that in the UK, drivers use the left side of the road instead of the right meant that directors who are accustomed to the follow caravan in the rest of Europe suddenly had to adjust to the reverse side for the driver, the opposite side of the road and the rules on which side of the cars riders can be assisted on. It caused plenty of chaos unseen by the television cameras.

    "I almost died five times," Horner said after suffering several mechanicals during the race and having to drop back to the following caravan for assistance. "Every time I was back in the cars - everybody's used to driving on the other side of the road,...

  • Goss dismisses Cavendish’s comments about Australian's tactics

    Gerrans and O'Grady both competed in the Beijing Games in 2008
    Article published:
    July 29, 2012, 4:38 BST
    Cycling News

    O'Grady goes all in during his final Olympic appearance.

    Mark Cavendish’s comments regarding "negative" tactics of other teams in Saturday’s Olympic road race has sparked a reply from Australia’s sprint hope for the event, Matt Goss. Cavendish had nothing but good words for his Great Britain teammates but felt that some of the other nations didn’t race as they should have.

    "We did everything we could. The crowd was tremendous the whole way around, but the Aussies just raced negatively," Cavendish told The Age.

    The Australian team had options in the 250km race and were quick to show their intentions by placing the most experienced of the squad, Stuart O’Grady in the breakaway. He was part of the initial move that went off the front within the opening 20km of the race and would go on to finish in sixth place.

    "We had a race plan, put someone in the main breakaway. It wasn’t up to us to chase. We gambled on other sprinter’s teams bringing it back. But they didn’t bring it back. It’s not our problem. We’re not going to chase down our riders," Goss said.

    Goss and his three remaining teammates stayed in the bunch and looked after their own interests by attempting to form a chase bunch behind the initial breakaway. Michael Rogers leapt from the Great Britain-lead peloton up the climb around Box Hill but it did little to impact the steady tempo of the bunch. 

    Rogers was left to chase alone and was making little head-way into the breakaway's advantage. He was quickly absorbed back...