The London 2012 road and track action may be over, but there are still four Olympic gold medals to be decided in cycling, two each in the mountain bike and BMX competitions. Great Britain has high hopes for Shanaze Reade and Liam Phillips in the latter, and both got their campaigns under way today as they went against the clock in the seeding phase of their respective competitions.
Reade, three times BMX world champion, was a strong favourite to take gold in Beijing, where the discipline made its Olympic debut, but crashed out in the final after clipping the rear wheel of winner Anne-Caroline Chausson of France.
Today, the 23-year-old from Crewe posted the fifth-fastest time of the 16 riders competing in the women’s event at London 2012, completing the course in 39.368 seconds in today’s individual ride, which will be used to ensure that the fastest riders are kept apart in Friday’s semi-finals.
Australia’s Caroline Buchanan, who beat Reade to the world BMX time trial championship in the world championships in Birmingham in May – the Briton would subsequently be eliminated in the quarter final after crashing – went quickest in 38.434sec, with New Zealand’s Sarah Walker posting the second fastest time today.
“It felt good, Reade said afterwards. “The first time you go out you're always going to be a bit rusty but it was great to compete in front of the home crowd.
"I've been sitting around watching all the Olympic titles being won in the velodrome,” added Reade, who twice partnered Victoria Pendleton to world championship gold in the team sprint. “I'm just glad to be out and competing myself."
In the men’s event, where 32 riders are competing, Phillips for a while held the quickest time of 38.719 seconds but eventually finished 12th, with the quickest time being set by Raymon van der Biezen of the Netherlands, who went round in 37.779 seconds.
Like Reade, Phillips had posted the second fastest time trial at those world championships in Birmingham, although he too would crash and with more serious consequences, breaking his collarbone.
“The track is fantastic, absolutely fantastic, it's Olympic standard,” he enthused after today’s ride. "I love it. This is the sort of the level that all the athletes want to play at, it's not over and above what the test event was.
“The test event [course] was stupid as far as I'm concerned. I didn't race, but I came and watched. It was just too much, whereas this is perfect," added Phillips, who took a break from BMX last year in an attempt to follow the route previously taken by Jamie Staff into the men's track team sprint squad for the role eventually taken by Philip Hindes.
Phillips progresses to the men’s quarter-final tomorrow, while like the women’s event, the semi-finals and final will both take place on Friday, with the action starting at 3pm.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.