We may have had a relatively successful indoor phase at the Commonwealth Games, but outdoors was a bit of a disaster. The Australians built on their domination of the Time Trials last week and produced a lesson in Road Racing for the home nations.
Considering the potential we have on the track, we must now turn our development attention to the road. After all, like it or not, surely it is here where medals will gain us recognition as a cycling force, not on the track? And we clearly have a lot to do.
Australia took 11 Gold Medals in the cycling. With a population of 20 million, compared to 60 million in the UK we should be able to compete with them? Before everyone thinks that this is a negative slur at British Cycling, it isn’t. We support them whole heartedly with their efforts on the track and this is rightly being held up internationally as an example as a success story. What worries some people is that this has been at the detriment of facilities (especially in the densly populated South East), road conditions, event backing and club structure. There is the impression that unless you ride the track and live in Manchester, you’re not really going to develop or be supported. Imagine if there had been a covered track in London for the past twenty years and closed roads and full support for the junior, women’s and Premier Calendars?
At Belgian races these days, it is English speaking voices all around, but with Australian, American and Kiwi accents. The only British lads being DFL and a smattering of the best road talent (Hunt, Hammond, Cummings etc.) Half the peloton seems to be made up of non-Belgians and seeing as we live only two hours away, why are the so few UK riders? British Cycling needs a feeder team out there and soon – Put the effort into pulling together a bunch of UK suppliers, manufacturers and financiers and get a sponsored team off to Flanders pronto.
What adds insult to injury is that in the Commonwealth Games men’s race could be described as Australia’s ‘B’ team, ‘C’ team even, as many of their stars have “bigger fish to fry” back in Europe. I don’t buy the ‘more medals available on the track’ argument either, it may be true in the short term, but Australia can (and have) proved that they have strength in depth on both the road and the track. Ironically it’s the mountain biking that let them down, which with all the space available and potential for off-road facilities, you’d think they’d have been stronger.
And don’t start the weather argument again (for the reason we’re behind other nations on the road) have you been to Belgium in January?
It’s not all bad though as Nicole Cooke’s Bronze medal proves she has determination and strength. But beyond her few can match her talent and so often she is isolated at international events, by the Germans or Australians.
However, perhaps the performance of the Games and the year so far was that of Emma Davies. Not only did she bring home a Bronze in the pursuit but she took the Road Race to the Australians in the breakaway showing spirit and determination. An amazing return to form after her accident and fantastic to see someone clearly enjoying the sport so much.
Results – Men’s 166 km Road Race
1. Mathew Hayman (Australia) 4.05.09
2. David Harold George (Republic of South Africa) 0.04
3. Allan Davis (Australia) 0.12
4. Stephen Cummings (England) 0.25
5. Gordon Harold Fraser (Canada) 0.38
6. Greg Henderson (New Zealand)
7. Mark Cavendish (Isle Of Man)
8. Roger Aiken (Northern Ireland)
9. Martin Gilbert (Canada)
10. Peter Latham (New Zealand)
Results – Women’s 100km Road Race
1. Natalie Bates (Australia) 2.56.08 (34.123km/h)
2. Oenone Wood (Australia) 3.05
3. Nicole Cooke (Wales)
4. Gina Katherine Grain (Canada)
5. Rachel Heal (England)
6. Joanne Kiesanowski (New Zealand) 3.07
7. Sara Carrigan (Australia) 3.19
8. Amy Hunt (England) 3.21
9. Olivia Gollan (Australia)
10. Rochelle Gilmore (Australia) 3.24
Medals – Cycling – G–S–B
Isle of Man 1–0–0
South Africa 0–1–0
New Zealand 0–0–1
New Zealand 0–1–0