Not perhaps the kick-off to Olympic Cycling that many of us had hoped for with Mark Cavendish’s ‘Dream Team’ failing to take a podium, but still an undeniably spectacular start to the 2012 Games and a thrilling race that ultimately saw Kazakhstan’s Alexandr Vinokurov take Gold, Rigoberto Uran Uran (Columbia) with Silver and Alexander Kristoff (Norway) with Gold.
With near perfect conditions and crowd support that at times rivalled the Tour de France’s best days the Men’s Road Race unfolded on a grand scale; 140+ riders from 63 countries tackling the longest Olympic course (also the largest ‘free to vie event’) that was incident packed almost from the off. A dog chose its moment to dart in front of the peloton whilst still well within London and by an hour and 45 minutes in the biggest crash of the day took down a dozen riders – the most unexpected event though was Fabian Cencellara’s locked rear wheel that had him plough into hoardings, leaving him bloodied and without hope for what little was left of the day. The extent of his injuries have not yet been disclosed but are more than likely to inhibit his performance ay Wednesday’s Time Trials – boosting Bradley Wiggins’ chances of Gold.
Despite the lack of Team GB medals, the Men’s Road Race looked like Great Britain has truly embraced the sport and even more encouraging – in this ‘build ‘em up and knock ‘em down’ media-led age – no one post-event was looking to lay blame, knock tactics or tut loudly ‘I told you so.’