Team GB reflect on how it all went wrong

Team and coaches frustrated and disappointed

by Sarah Barth   July 29, 2012  

Olympic road race 2012

The entire UK cycling community had something to say about yesterday's dramatic defeat of Team GB, who had been hailed as medal hopefuls for weeks.

Mark Cavendish, the pre-race favourite, came home in the main bunch following a race that his Great Britain team seeemed to have under control as it headed over Box Hill for the ninth and final time, but the big escape group managed to draw out and maintain a minute's advantage that proved impossible to claw back.

Cavendish was clearly deeply disappointed as he came in.

On his Twitter he alluded to his complaint that other national teams would not take on any of the work of the race, leaving Team GB on the front of the peloton for the duration of the 250km race.

"Gutted. After 250km, less than a minute to 20guys. My guys were INCREDIBLE & there was nothing more we could do. Victims of our own success," he said.

He congratulated the rest of his team for the work they did to stay at the front through the hours of racing:

"4 heroes in @bradwiggins, @millarmind, @chrisfroome & @IStannard. Rode, with the weight of a nation, until exhaustion. So proud."

Bradley Wiggins echoed Cavendish's sentiments, saying:

"Well we did everything we could as a team, gutted for Cav and sad to see Fabian out"

David Millar gave an insight into Cav's state of mind when he wrote:

"I think @MarkCavendish needs a hug from the nation. Normally he's angry when he loses, today he was just sad. He feels like he let GB down."

Chris Froome and Ian Stannard stayed silent on the defeat.

Dave Brailsfod, Team Sky and Team GB performance director, said that the race tactics were perfect:

"We had a game-plan and we stuck to the game-plan.

"The guys gave it absolutely everything they had but on the day, this time round, it didn't work. I think we just have to accept that.

"With five guys rather than the normal nine it was always going to be a more difficult challenge, but they rode 90% of the race perfectly, it was just in the final run-in, they couldn't pull it back. That was that.

"From our point of view, if we could have our time again, we'd do exactly the same thing."

Brailsford added that he was now looking forward to today's women's road race.

He said: "The Olympics is very much like a stage race. One day you win a stage and you're on a high, the next day you lose a stage and you're devastated, but you've got to keep going.

"As far as I'm concerned now, I can't dwell on it. We've got another race tomorrow.

"Cycling's in a great place and tomorrow's another day and we'll be attacking that with the same vigour and enthusiasm with which we arrived this morning.

"From our point of view, nothing's changed."

Great Britain's road race manager, Rod Ellingworth, echoed the sentiments of the entire team.

He said in the Guardian that Mark Cavendish finished the race with a slow puncture in his front wheel which meant the tyre was half-inflated and he was unable to sprint in his usual style: "It's not a given he would have won anyway but that's bike racing."

He added: "The Germans told us they would put a rider up front early on to help keep tabs on the early break but what they didn't tell us was that Tony Martin was going to pull out early,"

"If there had been eight riders going full gas we would have taken [the breakaway] back. We were banking on other teams taking it on later as well as us. The plan was that surely other teams with a sprinter would want to race, and without other teams committed to the race it was never going to work. I think the team was a victim of its own success. They rode well, never stopped, fought all the way. They couldn't have done anything differently."

 

 

26 user comments

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I would have thought any sprinter, of any nation, would dream of running a bunch sprint down The Mall in an Olympics road race.
Its obvious that the spiteful bunch in the race yesterday, as Cavendish alluded to, would rather just sit back and not see him win than bother racing.
Its disappointing more than anything.

posted by Some Fella [615 posts]
29th July 2012 - 11:01

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Need to stop blaming the other nations. Aussies had someone in the break, so did USA, Spain, Holland, Russia, Belgium.... Get the picture. Teams will not chase down their own riders. The break was simply 2 big to control...
Exception is Germany, but I think the pace of the GB squad throughout the laps killed them off (and the GB guys as well) as they obviously didn't have anything left for the run in. They tried and failed to bring it all back together on the laps... Might have been better to have saved some energy, let the smaller break get a few minutes, then all teams would have helped on the 50k run into the finish.
Game plan was a gamble, it failed. GB didn't lose, the breakaway won.... and a wily Vino got a well deserved gold

posted by shot18 [55 posts]
29th July 2012 - 11:18

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I don't think it's as simple as 'stop blaming the other nations'. Road racing is highly tactical and there's always an element of 'my enemy's enemy is my friend' amongst the pro teams. All Team GB are saying is that they expected a certain set of tactics to apply which would have involved other nations and it didn't pan out. Apart from Cav of course - I love him to bits but he doesn't half get in a strop when he's disappointed. Smile

posted by mrsminx411 [84 posts]
29th July 2012 - 12:05

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what a complete fudge-up this brilliant GB Team strategy was!

posted by Karbon Kev [650 posts]
29th July 2012 - 12:45

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If during a stage of the TdF Team Sky had a rider off the front of the peleton their remaining riders wouldn't work to bring the breakaway back to the bunch.

Why did Team GB expect teams like Australia would here?

To announce to the world in advance that there was only a Plan A, and then expect every other country not to plan accordingly suggests Team GB might have been a bit too cocky.

Run the same tactics ten times and Cav would no doubt win sometimes. But a bit naive to think it was going to work every time. And a bit childish to bitch and moan when it didn't.

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posted by byke.com.au [14 posts]
29th July 2012 - 13:13

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byke.com.au wrote:

To announce to the world in advance that there was only a Plan A, and then expect every other country not to plan accordingly suggests Team GB might have been a bit too cocky.

Run the same tactics ten times and Cav would no doubt win sometimes. But a bit naive to think it was going to work every time. And a bit childish to bitch and moan when it didn't.

Here here! Exactly what I said yesterday. Team GB ran a terrible race in light of the fact they had no plan B. Cav or Wiggins should have taken the role of quarterback and called an audible as we like to say here in the Colonies. Send Froome up the road and guaranteed the other countries would pick up the front end of the gruppo.

"because a goal without a plan is just a wish"

posted by bikeyourbest [13 posts]
29th July 2012 - 15:12

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byke.com.au wrote:
If during a stage of the TdF Team Sky had a rider off the front of the peleton their remaining riders wouldn't work to bring the breakaway back to the bunch.

Why did Team GB expect teams like Australia would here?

To announce to the world in advance that there was only a Plan A, and then expect every other country not to plan accordingly suggests Team GB might have been a bit too cocky.

Run the same tactics ten times and Cav would no doubt win sometimes. But a bit naive to think it was going to work every time. And a bit childish to bitch and moan when it didn't.

+1 Smile

posted by Decster [244 posts]
29th July 2012 - 16:58

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Wiggins said that Cav had the legs to chase the breakaway, but he remained true to the plan in the hope the others would deliver. Cav should have made that move, then a very different race would have developed.

posted by thefatcyclist [524 posts]
29th July 2012 - 18:59

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I was up on the Box Hill loop, a little up from the u-turn at the back of the loop. GB were always in the front 7 and the only 1 time they came round by me did anyone else come to the fore (That someone being Tony Martin). Also, the break was stacked - O'Grady and Gilbert amongst some other big names.

This route was built for a classics man or a group of strong rouleurs, there was no way Cav or any sprinter was going to have a shot at gold. However, nothing should take away from the performance of Team GB - They rode themselves inside-out, and at the end of the day that is all you can ask of them. And anyway, Cav's world champion and Wiggins is the winner of the Tour de France - We know what really counts between that and an Olympic Gold.

posted by Linkinbassist [33 posts]
29th July 2012 - 20:18

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Personally i think some of the comments on here are utter crap.

Even if GB had said we have plan A - Z the rest of the world would not help as they knew Cav was going to win. The germans with Griepel and aussies with Goss were the main rivals to Cav and it was obvious that they were not interested just shows how much they think of the Olympics.

Even though the aussies had a man up ahead they didnt do one thing to help so i'm sure both Goss and Griepel were over the moon and in the end even when Vino and Uran jumped off the front the rest couldn't match it as all they had been doing was keeping the pressure on so that Cav didnt catch up and they didnt have the legs to chase the front 2.

But i hope they are all feeling really proud that they set out to spoil rather than win.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2425 posts]
29th July 2012 - 20:31

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stumps wrote:

But i hope they are all feeling really proud that they set out to spoil rather than win.

Wot he said

posted by Some Fella [615 posts]
29th July 2012 - 21:16

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Absolute rubbish, Stumpy! These are the Olympics, not the Tour or the Worlds. If one of the teams that had a man in the break helped to chase them down, Cav takes the line and GB wins gold. The only chance the others had for a gold medal (that is after all what the Olympics are about) was to keep GB away from the break and hope their countryman could take the line.

GB should have put a man into the break when they saw what was happening. It's not rocket science...it's a one day race and yes, Cav should have tried to hit it if he had the legs. If not him, then certainly Froomey could have been launched off the front. As it was, hats off to the 4 Brits doing the work for Cavendish as they really rode their legs off. I only hope that they didn't waste Wiggins for Wednesday.

"because a goal without a plan is just a wish"

posted by bikeyourbest [13 posts]
29th July 2012 - 21:36

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For those who say Britain should have had a plan B, like get someone in the break, they simply did not have men spare to do that. Cutting your train to three would have essentially meant no chance of riding the break down and so poof goes your plan A. Britain were absolutely right to go with Cav. The Aussies were evidently mistaken not to help out (pinning your hopes on O'Grady would have made sense only half a decade ago) and the Germans offered too little too late. Had they both bothered they, along with GB, would have riders with Olympic medals right now.

Cheers M
_______________________________________________________
“Racing Is Life. Anything That Happens Before or After is Just Waiting.”

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posted by Morpheus00 [41 posts]
29th July 2012 - 21:50

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Who else wants to see an olympic stage race?

Sir Velo

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posted by Raleigh [1725 posts]
29th July 2012 - 22:03

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Bring it on! And make it a team event.

posted by mrsminx411 [84 posts]
29th July 2012 - 22:36

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Morpheus00 wrote:
For those who say Britain should have had a plan B, like get someone in the break, they simply did not have men spare to do that. Cutting your train to three would have essentially meant no chance of riding the break down and so poof goes your plan A. Britain were absolutely right to go with Cav. The Aussies were evidently mistaken not to help out (pinning your hopes on O'Grady would have made sense only half a decade ago) and the Germans offered too little too late. Had they both bothered they, along with GB, would have riders with Olympic medals right now.

Um. Every team had the same number of men. Using that logic, you could reason that they didn't help GB because they didn't have enough manpower. Doesn't wash...sorry. And again, it wasn't that Oz was pinning their hopes on O'Grady. It was that O'Grady that was in the break and they had a SHOT at gold by leaving him out there. If they help reel in the break, they are racing for silver or bronze because no one...No One...didn't believe that Cav was a Gold medalist if he had the hole.

Bottom line, GB was flabbergasted that no one helped at the front...how wrong is THAT attitude? GB needed to put their big boy spandex on that morning and play the GAME of racing...that they did not do.

"because a goal without a plan is just a wish"

posted by bikeyourbest [13 posts]
29th July 2012 - 22:43

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I personally think it was naive of team GB to not switch plans when the break was forming. It's all very well having a plan A that everyone knows about, and let's not forget it worked a treat at the World Championships. But in a one-day race you simply can't afford to let 30 men go down the road when it's just been you on the front all day and you know you're not going to get any help. not just 30 no-hopers either, Cancellara and Boonen and Vino and a whole bunch of other serious riders. It was never going to come back together after that.

whether that meant the whole team going or sending one man, whatever. cav says he had the legs to go; he should have gone. as it was the team underestimated the strength of the break. You can blame the aussies or the germans if you want, but we missed the decisive move of the race. that's not their fault.

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7028 posts]
29th July 2012 - 22:52

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bikeyourbest wrote:

Um. Every team had the same number of men.

Um. No they didnt. Kazakhstan only had two and Columbia had three.
Sagan was in a team of one!

Small but important point.

posted by Some Fella [615 posts]
30th July 2012 - 0:58

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Some Fella wrote:
bikeyourbest wrote:

Um. Every team had the same number of men.

Um. No they didnt. Kazakhstan only had two and Columbia had three.
Sagan was in a team of one!

Small but important point.

All the major teams had the same number, and nobody had more than the GB team, which is the more relevant point.

Only GB and Germany of the major nations failed to put a man in the break, so it was their job to chase it down.

It's really quite simple. It just didn't work - no point whining about it.

Is it about a bicycle ?

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posted by abudhabiChris [469 posts]
30th July 2012 - 5:12

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Quote:
we missed the decisive move of the race

This.

Also, I can't say I much care who wins really* but I do like to see animated racing. A race that spent 250km under firm control and ended up with a sprint finish that Cav won would have been exciting, but not as exciting as what we got. Chapeau Gilbert, O'Grady, Rogers, Cancellara, Uran and even Vino for some exciting times.

* as long as it isn't Vino. Oh.

posted by BigDummy [266 posts]
30th July 2012 - 9:37

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dave_atkinson wrote:
I personally think it was naive of team GB to not switch plans when the break was forming

Agreed. They let the initially small break get too big with too many powerful riders in it. Not sure whether this was in part because they weren't getting any info as to who was in the break (bit like the audience then), but by the time they seemed to realise how things were panning out it was too late to do much about it.

posted by Sadly Biggins [261 posts]
30th July 2012 - 12:46

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they have eyes, though, and they were right at the front watching who was going up the road. no real excuse for not knowing who was in the break

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7028 posts]
30th July 2012 - 12:52

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I agree again - couldn't (and shouldn't) really miss someone like Cancellara nipping off up the road

posted by Sadly Biggins [261 posts]
30th July 2012 - 14:44

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I would be interested to know what the criteria are for an Olympic road race (if any). I wonder why they chose 9 laps of Box Hill and 250KM ? Would it not have been possible to make the route more Cavendish/sprinter friendly given that at least 3 years ago it could have been anticipated that we had a world class sprinter with a chance of winning. Home advantage could perhaps have been employed to make it less likely that a break would succeed as happened in both races. Have we tried to be fair to all nations at the expense of our own team ...............or doesn't it work like that ? Given the opportunity I'm sure that other Olympic host nations would design a course to suit their home riders ? Thinking

Timsen

posted by Timsen [28 posts]
30th July 2012 - 18:41

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Just an after thought,if there had been gold silver and bronze for team as well then negative tactics would surely have gone out the window.

antonio

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posted by antonio [898 posts]
31st July 2012 - 10:43

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Naive question (possible) but in the road race team tactics say my enemies enemy is my friend and not supporting team GB to catch the breakaway by not giving 100% effort to gain an disadvantage for some isn't that what the badminton teams did Thinking

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posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [481 posts]
2nd August 2012 - 9:02

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