Team GB blunder and Vinokourov takes gold

When Great Britain’s Team Principal David Brailsford was quizzed on his team’s plans prior to Saturday’s Olympic men’s road race, his response drew as much exasperation as it did wry smiles from rivals teams.

Mark Cavendish, he exclaimed, “is our plan A, plan B.. and every other letter of the alphabet”.

Brailsford has earned a reputation as one of the most meticulous planners in the peloton and just a week previous he plotted the course of Bradley Wiggins to become the first Briton to win the Tour de France. But how he will rue investing the hopes of a nation on the shoulders of Cavendish after their plan backfired horribly on Saturday.

The race went exactly the opposite of how team GB would have wanted and what a shame it was too for the million or so who lined the streets of London and the surrounding Surrey hills for an extraordinary race, won by Alexandre Vinokourov from Kazakhstan.

But all the talk was and is, of how Team GB blundered so badly.

The plan, which all five team members bought into, was to shepherd Cavendish around the 250 kilometre course, keep him out of the wind and deliver him to the line where fans turned out since early morning for what many expected to be a formality.

What an anti-climax it proved to be when Cavendish, on one of the nine laps — which featured the climb of Box Hill — struggled on same and drifted backwards.

Team captain David Millar and Bradley Wiggins, along with Chris Froome and Ian Stannard, were all ordered to wait for Cav, but then an attack came from the front of the race and with the aforementioned looking after Cav out back, the decisive split happened.

Thirty two riders broke off the front, and crucially, no member of Team GB was in it.

The gap soon swelled to a minute and though they tried gallantly to close same, the British five ran out of road. Then, with 3k to go, Vinokourov launched an attack which only Rigoberto Uran (Colombia) could match.

The duo then worked well to hold off the chasing pack with the Kazakh taking the sprint comfortably. Norwegian Alexander Kristoff notched the bronze medal.

David McCann was the best Irish finisher in 55th, with Nicolas Roche and Dan Martin 87th and 88th, respectively.

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