Saturday, 4 August 2012

GB Olympic cycling - how good can they get?

Bradley Wiggins ready to go at Hampton Court
 Wednesday we were very fortunate to be at Hampton Court in the starting enclosure for the Olympic Road  Cycling Time Trials. Fergal, Louis, Logan and myself found ourselves in with the prawn sandwich brigade - sorry Brad you were wrong there - ours were home-made ham and tomato - in fact it wasn't full of corporates at all - just cycling fans. Meanwhile about a million more cycling fans were lining the route. First up were the women with Lizzie Armitsted and Emma Pooley going for GB. We pestered Nicole Cooke  - who watching her team mates just over the way - into giving us a wave before they set off.
Lizzie Armitstead
 The British women did very well with Lizzie finishing in 10th and Emma in 6th place then it was a mad dash to the podium  for the medal presentations and back to the barriers for the start of the men's time trial.
Emma Pooley

Tony Martin

By now you'll probably have seen the ridiculous thrones that the top three finishers were made to sit in - in the men's race they all found excuses not to sit down in them if they could.
Go Wiggo

Chris Froome went off with seven to go then we had the bizarre sight of Luis Leon Sanchez snap his chain on the start ramp which seemed to unsettle Taylor Phinney then came the final three starters of Tony Martin, Bradley Wiggins and Fabian Cancellara.
 Well the rest is history - I know many of you were out there on the course and from what we saw on the big screen the GB riders were pushed along by the noise of the crowd. A 1st and 3rd for team GB and the track to come left me wondering how good can they get.
The Time Trial podium Tony Martin, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome

Jess Varnish and Victoria Pendleton in the team sprint
 Thursday we were at the velodrome for the first day of the track competition and the place was buzzing. The heat inside there is incredible and that's without getting on a bike. Seated above the starting position on the back straight we were perfectly sited for viewing the team sprint competitions. The women went first and set a new world record only to see it then being beat by the chinese team. Never mind the crowd were raising the roof. Then in the second qualifier an announcement came that there was a query on Varnish and Pendleton's change over. By now the crowds attention had switched to the pursuit qualifiers but I was watching Dave Brailsford arguing with the officials in track centre. We all know that it's totally pointless arguing the toss with a commisairre so it was little surprise when after ten minutes Brailsford turned away and drew his hand across his throat as he headed towrds the GB camp - they were out. No matter the Chinese were faster the crowd went totally flat.
Hoy, Kenny and Hindes in the men's team sprint
Things only picked up when the quartet for men's pursuit came out for their qualifier - last as current world record holders. The crowd soon picked themselves up and roared on GB to their fastest time ever.
The GB men on their way to a new world record and gold 

Meanwhile the men's sprint trio had had enough drama of their own when lead out man Philip Hindes wobbled and fell off shortly after starting in the qualifier - luckily they were allowed to restart and in the final against a very good french side Hindes, Sir Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny won the three-man, three-lap team sprint in a world record of 42.6 seconds. The crowd went totally mad -amongst whom we had spotted Gilbert, and spoke to Tony Martin and Dave Millar. If you can get in there in the next few days do so - sell your house  - whatever it takes - its just amazing.

Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh in qualifying for the team pursuit
Since I started writing this in the afternoon I Gave up to watch today's track racing - two more golds! One for the pursuit boys above and Vicky Pendleton on the Keirin - if you were there or are going to any of the other cycling events mail us a report and pics.
World record holders and Olympic champions the men's GB pursuit squad.

Photos - Logan.

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