Those Bloody Whingeing Poms

1bbradfo July 30, 2012 1

I’ve hardly heard anything from Alexandre Vinokourov, Rigoberto Uran, Third Placed guy, Stuey O’Grady any Spanish or German riders since the men’s Olympic Road Race finished. I’ve heard a lot from the Brits though. They seem to think their failure is someone else’s fault.
A couple of factors that contributed to their failure – some of them were uncontrollable, some of them were stupid.
First and most obvious is the lack of race radio. The ubiquitous piece of technology is also one of the most controversial in professional cycling. Some say it ruins the spectacle of the race. Others say it is necessary for safety reasons.
Without radios, the riders didn’t have an accurate gauge of the size of the break. Nor could they co-ordinate their chase.
The second reason is the length of the race and the size of the teams. It’s a big ask to control a 250 km race with just five riders – radios or no radios. By contrast, the average length of a road stage in this year’s Tour de France was 188.5 km – the longest stage being 226 km – and a team had nine riders.
You can expect the team of the TDF leader to spend a fair chunk of time on the front of the peloton. So, if (a big if, but go with it) each rider on the leaders’ team – the leader excluded – did an equal amount of work on a TDF stage, a simple mathematical equation (188.5 km ÷ 8 riders) tells us that they would spend 23.5 km on the front of the peloton. If the same thing applied to the Olympic Road Race – which it certainly seemed to – you get the four riders on Cavs team each riding 62.5 km on the front.
Of course the reality is far from this simplified equation, but it does give some perspective.
The third reason is that they put all their eggs in one basket. Or more precisely, they put their one egg – Cav – in one basket. Turns out that basket was tattered, tired and worn-out after riding around France in one of the most boring Tour wins in living memory. Bad tactics.
But the fourth reason is the big one. Team GB rode as if it were another stage in the Tour, which generally follow a fairly simple formula: Start. Breakaway. The boring middle bit where Phil and Paul tell everyone about castles. Concerted chase. Sprint invariably won by Cav.
But the Olympics is a one day race, like the spring classics. These usually go along a fairly simple formula too: Start. All hell breaks loose. Manic couple of hours in which a legend or fiend like Vino, Cancellara, Boonen or Stuey pulls some outlandish move to claim a heroic victory.
There’s almost always chaos in a one day race and even a nine man team struggles to control them. Most teams have a designated leader, but they’ll also have a plan B and C to cover any eventuality.
Team GB had no plan B. Plan A wasn’t very good in the first place. They lost. They whined about it.
Cavendish will be 31 at the next Olympics. He will probably have broken the record for most Tour stages and maybe even won another World Championship or two by then. But there’s no doubt he’ll still be moaning whenever he doesn’t win.
Mark Cavendish, great champion. Terrible loser.

  • Hubcap

    The Poms, ever gracious, even had a swipe at the Aussies for our “negative” tactics. We had certified hard man Stuey off the front the whole day and Mick Rogers had a dig too. We saw enough of the Aussies helping the Poms win everything in July (yeah yeah, trade teams, I know..but still, it’s the effing Poms)

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