Cycling

Three things to watch for in the men’s Olympic road race

Will Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish win Olympic gold for Britain?

I’m so excited about tomorrow’s road race I’m not even going to bother trying to put it into words. They don’t exist. (Meaning, of course, I don’t have the skill required to put it into words.)

Combine that excitement with terror, naturally: after Mark Cavendish’s breathtaking sprints rounded off a Tour de France that saw Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome complete a British one-two, is it too much to hope that the British team will snag the Olympic gold medal as well? It’s almost too much to bear. I’ll be watching most of it from behind my hands, I think.

Wiggins reckons the British team may be the strongest team to ever take part in an Olympic road race but it’s far from certain that Cavendish will cross the line first. If you’re planning on watching, here are three things to keep an eye out for:

  1. Punctures on Box Hill. The race includes nine laps of Box Hill and its narrow country lanes. The peloton will be strung out, support cars far behind, and a puncture could spell disaster, leaving the victim at the wrong end of the action.

  2. Breakaway that stays away. If a group of riders gets away early and makes good time on the hill reps, it could stay away and leave Cavendish outside the medals. Expect to see Peter Sagan popping up in a break — Slovakia ranks low and only fields one rider, so he has no team to support him.

  3. Crashes in an inexperienced peloton. This isn’t your usual peloton. Riders without teams, riders with (relatively) little experience. As we saw in the first week of this year’s Tour, inexperienced, nervous riders make for spectacular crashes.

Having said that, my money’s still on Millar, Wiggins, Froome, Stannard, and Cavendish. The winner of the Tour de France leading out the world champion for the Olympic gold medal will certainly be a sight to see.

Post-race update

A textbook example of how a race can go awry. Britain a victim of their own success, shoddy TV coverage, an unrepentant doper as gold medallist, absolute heartbreak for Cancellara, all polished off with embarrassing post-race interviews from the BBC’s Jill Douglas. Let-down-o-rama.

It’s raining here as well — started as soon as the race finished. I can’t even go for a pleasant post-race ride. Balls to everything.

Oh, and as to my predictions: no punctures, the breakaway did stay away, and the only major crash was caused by a very experienced member of the peloton. 1/3.