31/07/2012

London 2012 Olympics - Road Race - BONUS!

Big thanks to my friend, Rosie, who was present on Box Hill on Saturday and took the following film - the crowd go bonkers when Team GB cycles past!

video


29/07/2012

London 2012 Olympics - Road Race


Well, a lot has been said about the Olympic road race yesterday, things did not go to plan, unfortunately for Team GB, there was no Plan B... Ultimately a 38 year old former drug cheat won the gold medal, and Mark Cavendish trailed home in 28th place.

Team GB seemed to concentrate on the science (aero bikes, helmets, skinsuits etc), but the team was limited in being able to improvise on the day. Ultimately, the limiting factor was Mark Cavendish's speed on the 9 ascents of Box Hill, this meant that Team GB was unable to chase any attacks. A breakaway of 30 riders (i.e. a peloton in its own right), was too powerful for Team GB to reel in on the way back to London, and, additionally, Team GB's cause was hindered by the reticence of other teams to help set the pace at the front.

Mark Cavendish seemed dejected when interviewed by the BBC afterwards, and the failure to "medal" was the headline on the BBC evening news. Perhaps, there was too much hype and expectation, after all, a 251K road race is inevitably difficult to control, but the 2011 World Championships and the 2012 Tour de France (Team Sky) seemed to suggest that Team GB could deliver Mark for a sprint finish on The Mall.

Mark praised his teammates after the event, but I wonder whether Cav is going to fall into the category of great athletes not to win an Olympic medal. He will be 31 by the time of the Rio olympics, and much will depend on the route, conditions and, just as importantly, his form.

It is not a case of comparing like with like, the 100M will be the same all around the world, barring altitude and weather conditions on the day, whereas a single day road race will have so many other variables in the mix, i.e. it can be a bit of a lottery - unfortunately Team GB did not have a winning ticket.


More to read here:

Guardian

Velo News

23/07/2012

Tour de France 2012 - Stage 20 - Four in a Row!



Well, what a day for british cycling, can things get any better than this. Another stage victory, a british 1-2 and a british team winning the Tour de France, in simple terms, the british have dominated this year's Tour - 7 out of 20 stages were won by british riders!  



There was no relaxation for Bradley Wiggins who helped deliver Mark Cavendish to the finish line - Cav dominated the sprint yet again to take his third stage victory, No. 23 overall, and fourth in a row on the Champs Elysees. On any other year, Cav would be the headline maker!

This is the first time that road cycling has hit the front pages of all the newspapers, the first story on the TV news bulletins and has been the main talking point on the speech radio stations (BBC Radio 5 Live and TalkSport).

Here is a flavour of the media's stories:

BBC News

ITV

Guardian

Daily Mail

Telegraph

The Sun

22/07/2012

Tour de France 2012 - Stage 19

Mark Cavendish finished the 53.5km time trial in 82nd place, some 6:58 on stage winner and TDF winner elect, Bradley Wiggins.



To think that a british team, with 2 british riders could finish 1-2 in the Tour would have been considered somewhat ambitious three years ago when Dave Brailsford announced the formation of Team Sky, to take on the best of the pro teams, yet, here we are in mid July 2012, with this proposition a reality, barring any last minute mishaps. Brailsford's aim was to win the Tour within 5 years and he has exceeded expectations...

So, where does that leave Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish and british cycling?

Bradley Wiggins is 32 so will have at least a couple more decent Tour efforts in him... However, Chris Froome, the younger rider at 27, looked a stronger rider than Wiggo in the mountains, albeit Wiggo is the stronger time trialist. It will be interesting to see how Team Sky can manage these two riders, will Froome need to leave the team to fulfil his ambition or will he wait until he becomes the dominant rider on the team?

Mark Cavendish has scored two stage wins this year and is favourite for a third stage win (and fourth in a row) on the Champs Elysees. This is an unusual year in that the Olympic road race is next Saturday and Cav is a clear favourite for that event, and hence has been held back somewhat in the Tour. However, Cavendish has not been the centre of attention at Team Sky, like he was at Highroad (HTC, Columbia etc...) and will never be at the Tour de France whilst Team Sky concentrate on the yellow jersey. Will he want to stay at Team Sky long term? Team Sky offers that seamless integration with the Great Britain road team (be this the Olympics or the World Championships), that, perhaps, a rival continental team wouldn't... However, a Highroad type team with Mark as team leader, will maximise opportunities for stage wins...

As for british cycling in terms of the organisation and in a wider perspective, as a member of BC myself, I can see membership increasing dramatically, the number of "Sky rides" increasing and the number of sportives increasing around the country. More importantly, the use of a bicycle as a form of transport may be taken more seriously and less associated with poverty - i.e. a lifestyle choice rather than economic necessity. Cycling is a cheap hobby and is a great form of exercise, of course, it can be an expensive hobby if you want it to be....

We stand on the precipice of history - the first british winner of the Tour!

20/07/2012

Tour de France 2012 - Stage 18 - Win No. 22!



Bloody hell, Mark Cavendish's tour de force at the end of Stage 18, showed the entire race that he is back!

Nicolas Roche, interviewed by ITV4, and was sprinting for the stage win himself, was simply in a state of shock when asked about Cav's sprint to the finish line!

Win No. 2 at this year's TDF and No. 22 overall saw Cav lay down a marker for Sunday - any doubts that Cav was not the favourite for Sunday were dispelled...



Read all about it here:

Cycling Weekly

Velo News

The Guardian - with highlights

The Isle of Man

19/07/2012

Tour de France 2012 - Stage 17

Yet another day of survival for Mark Cavendish, as again he finished safely within the time limit, behind the ever faithful Bernhard Eisel, albeit after a crash early on, Cav's handlebars being caught up with a spectator's flag. It really doesn't matter that he finished 152nd out of 153.

Oh, by the way, Team Sky are simply dominating the Tour - Wiggins and Froome are about to make it a Belgian/Kenyan 1-2!!!

Just three stages left, including the coronation of Bradley Wiggins as the first ever British TDF winner and hopefully a "four-in-a-row" victory for Mark Cavendish on the streets of Paris.

In fact, Stage 18, on Friday, may provide Cav with an opportunity to remind everyone that he is the main man... We shall see.

Tour de France 2012 - Stage 16

Nothing to see here, everybody move on.... Mark finished safely within the time limit in the Pyrenees where he finished 134th out of 152 finishers, some 33 minutes down on stage winner, and all round entertainer, Thomas Voeckler.



16/07/2012

Tour de France 2012 - Stage 15

Another quiet day for Mark Cavendish at the Tour de France, where he finished safely in the Peloton... Here's hoping we are all being saved for a Tour de Force on the Champs Elysees this Sunday followed by gold the following weekend on the streets of London... We can dare to dream!

An illuminating interview with Mark on ITV4's highlights programme tonight, he spoke about his role on the team this year, as a Super Domestique, this was backed up with an interview with race leader, Bradley Wiggins, and his hope to repay Cavendish this weekend and at the Olympics.

Tour de France 2012 - Stage 14

Another stage, another day in the Autobus for Mark Cavendish. Having previously worked for his Sky Team mates, in his "Super Domestique" role, Cav then finished 28:18 down on the winner, to ensure another day in the Tour...

Stage 14 suffered from a number of punctures, as a result of tacks being placed on the road, read all about it here.

15/07/2012

Tour de France 2012 - Stage 13

Mark endured a frustrating day on stage 13 of Le Tour - he was dropped on the final climb of the day (without the support of team mates) and was unable to contest the sprint finish, which went to former team mate, Andre Griepel. Sky's efforts are centred on victory and possible/probable 1-2 for Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. The consensus in the cycling media is that Mark is now waiting for the Olympics - better days ahead?




Meanwhile, The Sun published an interesting family/lifestyle story on Mark on Saturday.



13/07/2012

Tour de France 2012 - Stage 12

Well, british riders are re-writing the record books at this year's Tour de France... I felt a sense of pride for David Millar when he crossed the line to take victory today - in doing so, became the fourth british rider to win a stage of the Tour de France in Cav's, Chris Froome's and Bradley Wiggins' footsteps. Not only a british victory today, but on the anniversary of Tommy Simpson's death some 45 years ago.

Indeed, all the british riders present at the Tour and who are in the GB road race team in the olympics in a few weeks' time have won a tour stage. The exception is Ian Stannard, who became the british road race champion just a couple of weeks ago...

David Millar is a rider who still attracts praise and criticism in equal measures, an ex-doper who has served his time and who now works tirelessly in the fight against doping for the Slipstream team (currently called Garmin-Sharp) and at the very least showed remorse for his previous actions, I personally believe everybody deserves a second chance in life and it is a fitting way that Millar claimed a Tour stage victory today, given, at 35, he is nearing the end of a truncated pro career. He will also act as the captain for the road team in the Olympics, his place in the olympics, not being something he actively pursued and challenged for...



I hope that Cav is hoping to make his mark tomorrow, Stage 13 - a sprint stage, as again he rode in near the back, conserving energy and hoping for better days.... Wiggo and Froome continue to dominate for Team Sky at the sharp end of the race. Brad has written a suitably vehement piece for the Guardian today against the naysayers...



Tour de France 2012 - Stage 11

Mark finished, once again, in the Grupetto, at the end of the toughest day of the Tour thus far, one in which Team Sky strenghtened their hold on the yellow jersey with Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome now heading a british 1-2 in the GC. It was also the day when Cadel Evans chances of repeating his 2011 victory evaporated - he was broken not only by Team Sky but also Vincenzo Nibali, who is now in third place, leaving Evans trailing in fouth place overall...

For the record, Cav finished the stage in 154/167 33:35 down on Pierre Rolland. In the GC, Cav is now 153/167. More importantly, the green jersey is looking a bit unlikely this year - Cav (fourth place) trails current leader Peter Sagan by 103 points. Stage 12 is unlikely to bring much joy for Cav, although Stage 13 is a sprinters' stage...

This picture inadvertently sums up Cav's current position within Team Sky, given their (correct) support of Wiggins, and also Cav's olympic dreams...



11/07/2012

Tour de France 2012 - Stage 10

Mark enjoying his laid back role in the Tour...



Mark finished safely at the back of the Autobus at the end of Stage 10 in the Tour de France. Mark was interviewed by Cycling Weekly about his "current" role within Team Sky whilst Messrs. Wiggins and Froome are at the sharp end of the race...

09/07/2012

Tour de France 2012 - Stage 9

Mark finished the 41.5K (or 25.77M) time trial today in 161st place (out of 178 riders), some 8:34 down on the stage winner, and GC Leader, Bradley Wiggins. Mark is now 153rd in the overall GC, and will be conserving his energy for sprint finishes later on in the Tour and, of course, the Olympics Road Race...

What a day for Team Sky, Bradley Wiggins has extended his lead over Cadel Evans to 1:53 in the GC, with fellow Sky rider, Chris Froome, in third place overall... There is still a long way to Paris but this is starting to look good...

Tour de France 2012 - Stages 7 and 8

A quiet weekend for Cav, if not for Team Sky! The team have assumed control of the Peloton and Bradley Wiggins now leads the GC, becoming only the 5th british rider to lead the Tour. Mark Cavendish has become a Super Domestique, helping the team out as far as possible, waiting for Stage 13, and his next chance of a stage win.

Here is Mark on bottle collection duties, during stage 7.



I have been impressed with the level of quality of Sky's website, and the words and pictures can be seen here...



07/07/2012

Tour de France 2012 - Stage 6

I was able to carry live coverage on my Twitter account for the last 20K or so of  Stage 6. Unfortunately, Cav had been involved in the aftermath of an almighty crash 25K from the end, puncturing whilst braking hard to avoid the crash... This was disappointing for Cav's supporters and left Peter Sagan to claim his third stage win of this year's TDF ahead of Andre Griepel who survived the crash, with a shoulder injury, nonetheless the German still fought manfully for what could have been a third consecutive stage win....

As I suggested on Twitter, Mark is unlikely to feature in any sprint finishes until stage 13 now...



06/07/2012

Tour de France - from the Archives 2007

Pic of Mark passing through Rochester/Borstal Kent in T-Mobile colours during stage 1 of the Tour de France 2007...



Tour de France 2012 - Stage 5

Well, Mark was beaten in the sprint at the conclusion of stage 5 by his former teammate, Andre Griepel. This was Griepel's second consecutive stage win and William Fotheringham over at the Guardian, explains much better than I can, how and why Cav was beaten...



04/07/2012

Tour de France 2012 - Stage 4 - Ouch!

Mark suffered from a few cuts and bruises today as the peloton experienced an almighty crash just before the end of the stage in Rouen. Andre Griepel won the weakened sprint, the German taking his 2nd ever TdF stage victory, in Mark's absence....



Team Sky boss reported after the stage that both Mark and his "minder", Bernie Eisel, would start stage 5 on Thursday morning...



Further details can be found on Sky's website.


Tour de France 2012 - Stage 3

Mark finished safely in a slower pack 7:27 down on stage winner, Peter Sagan (a star in the making!), in 153rd place, which leaves him 130th overall, almost 10 minutes down on the yellow jersey holder, Fabian Cancellara. This was a hilly day on the run in to Boulogne, where the out and out sprinters were not expected to feature.

Bad news for Team Sky, domestique Kanstantsin Siutsou is out of the race after a crash - read all about it here. This is the first loss for Team Sky, hopefully there will be no other problems as the team will need all its support for Bradley Wiggins, especially in the mountain stages...

02/07/2012

Tour De France 2012 - Stage 2 - Looking After Business...

I have run out of words to explain the joy a Mark Cavendish win brings... His first stage win at this year's Tour de France, a terrific sprint in which he outgunned his former teammate, Andre Griepel, with another former teammate, Matt Goss, behind him in 3rd place, proved that Mark's previous victories were not just down to the "High Road Train", today's victory being achieved with little assistance from Sky teammates.... In the end, half a wheel length was enough and the post race interview with Andre Griepel, on ITV4, showed how much Griepel was disappointed by being beaten by his erstwhile teammate.

Time will tell if Sky can bring home both yellow and green jerseys but on today's evidence, it is not an impossibility....



This takes Mark Cavendish onto 21 TdF stage victories... - next stop, 22 victories to draw level with Lance Armstrong and Andre Darrigade....

This is how Cycling Weekly reported today, Velo News and the Isle of Man News.

Tour de France 2012 - Stage 1


Mark currently lies in 106th place overall (+2:30) following the first stage of Le Tour, through the rolling Belgian landscape. He also picked up some points in the intermediate sprint and lies in 25th place overall (8 points) in the battle for the green jersey. After 2 days, Fabian Cancellara wears both the yellow and green jerseys. Peter Sagan has made an explosive Tour debut winning the uphill finish on Sunday.

Here is what Team Sky had to say....

01/07/2012

Tour de France 2012 (this blog has awoken!) - Prologue



Well, where was I? Whilst this site won't win any awards for regular updates, I hope the quality of the posts which do get published, more than make up for it.... well, perhaps not!

In the blog's absence, Mark did win Sports Personality of the Year 2011, did sign for Sky Pro Cycling, has had a baby, and has competed in some cycle races in 2012... Other than that, it has been a quiet year for both Mark and this blog!

The remainder of 2012 is crucial for Mark, can he defend his green jersey at Le Tour and can he get gold at the London Olympics, just one week later?

Mark finished the prologue (6.4K) in Liege in 41st place, 23 seconds behind "Spartacus" Fabian Cancellara (7:13) in a pretty decent performance for the Manx Missile. Mark, unusually clad in Sky black kit (Mark is the "road" world champion, Tony Martin is the "time trial" world champion, so Tony wore the WC jersey yesterday in the first time trial of this year's event), looks to have shed some weight as he prepares for Box Hill in a few weeks time...


This blog will try harder to keep it all going in the next few weeks!