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 into the main pack after short while off the front. It was another sign however, that Australia would not be contributing to the chase. The race eventually split up and with O’Grady still off the front, the Australian's left it to a slowing British team to reel it back together.
"That’s racing, isn’t it? He [Cavendish] is obviously frustrated that he didn’t get to sprint for the win, but I am frustrated too... I didn’t get to sprint for the win. But I am a team player. I am happy Stuart has the result. It was a great ride," he said.
O'Grady content with final Olympic participation
O’Grady called his day in London "one of the rides of my life" according to The Age. At 38-years-old this would be his final Olympics and he wanted to go out with a bang.
"That was one of the rides of my life. Today was going to be my last Olympic appearance and I wanted to go all in, the people of London out there today, that was the most incredible [experience] I have ever had in my life ...without my wife," he said.
From the moment the breakaway left the uninterested peloton, O’Grady was seen talking with his companions, using his vast experience to ensure the pace was controlled and that everyone remained motivated for the task that lay ahead.
"I was telling the guys 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," he said.