Velocipedes at the Empire Games

A quick update from the Commonwealth Games where, unlike the Tour de France, British riders have figured prominently.

Time trials

Cycling News went all Phil Liggett, calling Alex Dowsett’s win for England ‘the ride of his life’. The rider called Rohan (Dennis) came second for Australia and Geraint Thomas took bronze for Wales. In the women’s event, Britain did terribly, only managing second place through England’s Emma Pooley. Linda Villumsen won for New Zealand with Katrin Garfoot third for Australia.

Women’s road race

In the women’s road race, England battered the field so that there were only a handful of riders left in the front group with a couple of laps to go. They did this because they were pretty confident that Lizzie Armitstead was the strongest rider. She was.

“I’m always on the podium but I don’t win that many races. It’s just a confidence thing.”

More accurately, it’s a Marianne Vos thing. The world’s greatest cyclist is Dutch and therefore ineligible for the Commonwealth Games. There’s no shame in finishing second to her, but Armitstead deserves a high profile win.

Armitstead could give a lot of thanks to her team-mate, Emma Pooley.

“I expected to be worked into the dust and finish last.”

As it turned out, she was worked into the dust and finished second. South Africa’s Ashleigh Pasio came third.

Men’s road race

Geraint Thomas won, but Thomas being Thomas he almost failed due to something non-fitness related. He got a puncture and just about the slowest wheel change I’ve ever seen with 6km to go, having only recently got away from New Zealand’s Jack Bauer, who came second, and England’s Scott Thwaites – a promising young rider who seems to do a bit of everything – who came third. Fortunately, Thomas had enough of a gap and stayed away.

The race was also notable for Peter Kennaugh’s protracted suicide mission. He attacked right near the start and being as no-one followed him, he was sentenced to ride alone for 116km, Tony Martin style.

Mark Cavendish was in the team car, operating as the Isle of Man’s directeur sportif. What did he make of the move? According to Kennaugh:

“He was just saying, ‘What are you doing?’”

Failing gloriously was the answer.

Beyond the empire

In this place called ‘Europe’ they were competing in the Clasica San Sebastian, a major one-day race. The key moment came when the five-man front group were descending a few kilometres from the finish. Alejandro Valverde made it a bit hairy for everyone by going slightly too fast and Adam Yates (the other Yates, not the one who was in the Tour) crashed. Valverde made the most of the resultant gap and stayed away to win.

Bauke Mollema came second, while Joaquim Rodriguez came third and seems to be building decent form for the Vuelta.