Vinokourov Dampens Great Britain’s Glow

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The 2012 Olympics road race was built up to be a sure thing for Cavendish. All he needed to do was show up and sit behind his team of super-domestiques, but the race dynamics were different this time. Five-men teams and no radios saw a race play out wildly different than was expected.

It was a scenario we haven’t seen in recent memory. None other than Stuey O’Grady created an expected early break, but nobody envisioned it to swell to 26 big-named riders which didn’t include one British team member. Without race radios Britain would have had only a very slight idea of the star studded field they were trying to chase down and were playing a game they were used to playing with nine-men with only five team members (similar to Copenhagen). No other countries except for Germany would ally with Britain to ensure the race came down to a sprint finish. Did this create exciting racing? I most definitely think so!

“Translation: I gave up my Tour de France for this?” (update: please…that’s only a joke)

In the heat of the moment, Cavendish said after the race:

“The guys all sat there in the tent absolutely spent. We did everything we could. The crowd was tremendous the whole way around, but the Aussies just raced negatively.”

It was Uran and Vinokourov’s simultaneous attack which caught-out the escape group and ultimately won the race, but it was on the 6th(?) lap of Box Hill when the break was down to 45 seconds where GB ultimately lost the race. The outcome could have been very different if they had stepped up their chase efforts at this point instead of allowing the attacks to bridge.

There seems to be speculation and an assumption that Vino’s words with Rigoberto Uran before the final sprint may have contained words similar to that of Alexander Kolobnev’s in L-B-L, but that’s being disrespectful to Uran. I wouldn’t put it past Vinokourov (or lots of cyclists), but I think that Uran just made a royal mess of a situation that will keep him awake at night for years to come. I do wonder what Uran was doing checking over his shoulder at 180m to go and not sprinting. At 400m Uran looked right twice with Vino on his tail, and then for some unknown reason he looked left a split second later when Vino attacked. We shall wait for a News of the World journalist to hack into Vino’s computer before making judgement.

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Vinokourov has already retired once after his doping ban in 2007 stating, “I don’t want this sport any more. I’m slamming the door and I’m leaving. I will prove I’m not guilty”. He successfully returned to the sport but was close to retirement after breaking his femur at the Tour de France last year. However, he returned for the 2012 season because Astana team needed his points to assure it a place in the World Tour and set his sights on this Olympic Gold. What will come of him next?

Television Coverage

The roadside atmosphere looked electric but the world television coverage was appalling. Don’t blame Channel 9 though. Roger Mosey, the director of London 2012 at the BBC was quick to distance himself and blames OBS (Olympic Broadcast Services – the world feed broadcaster) for their contemptuous coverage with lack of information and timing. OBS’s desire to keep it “clean on screen” appeared to neglect its viewers. Hats off to Scotty McGrory and Phil Liggett who made an excellent commentary team for Channel 9 using the same on-screen information that we were getting at home.

Australian Olympic Cycling Schedule

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