Brad Wiggins rounded off an astounding year by taking his first road cycling Gold in the Men's Time Trial ahead of Tony Martin and Chris Froome. The 44km course starting at Hampton Court Palace proved absolutely no problem for the Tour de France winner who beat Martin's time by around 44 seconds. The German had been one of the strong favourites for the TT but doubt was cast after his injury strewn Tour de France last month left him with a broken wrist. Another favourite who suffered following an injury was Swiss TT specialist Fabian Cancellara who overcooked a corner on the Olympic Road Race four days previously and, although cleared of a collarbone injury, looked to be in serious discomfort on the bike. Credit where credit's due to Spartacus though, he crawled off his bike, clutching him shoulder, and lay on the floor for half an hour, looking grey and nauseous, and still managed to land 7th place, less than two and a half minutes down on Wiggins.
The previous weekend's road race was slightly less of a success for the British team, consisting of Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, David Millar, Chris Froome and Ian Stannard. The plan had always been to get Cav gold. Maybe that was the problem – there was only one plan. Millar or Froome could have easily gotten in to and kept with the huge breakaway that occurred early on in the race, but their job was to protect and help Cavendish in the knowledge that if the race came back together and ended in a bunch sprint, the Manx missile would be first across the line. Unfortunately, the rest of the peloton were aware of that as well. As Slovenian rider Janez Brajkovic put it on his Twitter account (sic) “My opinion: Most teams were not racing to win, they were racing to see Team GB loose.” Whilst it's true that no nation that featured a rider in the break should want to work on the front to drag said break back, teams like Germany and Italy who both missed the jump were still not eager to assist GB in their pace setting. It's true that the faces of Germany's Tony Martin and Austria's Bernhard Eisel were on the front from time to time, the majority of the race was the navy blue, white and red of GB dragging the peloton along.
Finally, with the original break splintered, and their energy spent, Team GB could do nothing but sit and watch as Alexander Vinokourov and Rigoberto Uran were the first to make the move from the front bunch. Vino and Uran worked begrudgingly together until the last 200m where Vino seized on a momentary lapse of concentration from the Columbian and powered to victory and the gold medal. Uran took silver and the first chase group came in 8 seconds later with Norway's Alexander Kristoff taking bronze.
It was a different case altogether on the track of the Olympic Velodrome though, as the success of Wiggins' gold and Lizzie Armitstead's silver were emulated, and where Team GB repeated their Beijing success to an even greater extent, achieving a podium place in all but one event.
First off with a record breaking time of 42.6 was the men's team sprint consisting of Philip Hindes, Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny. After witnessing Hindes come a bit of a cropper, the three riders managed to pull it back together and sprint to victory over the French team, over three laps of the velodrome, to take gold with Germany on the bronze step. Unfortunately, the women's team sprint wasn't to be for Great Britain after Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish were relegated and disqualified for an early exchange which violated rules. Germany's Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte went on to take the Gold.
The GB Track boys smashed another world record in the Men's Team Pursuit as Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh managed the 4km race in 3:51, nearly three seconds faster than the silver medal winners, Australia. The women's team were not to be outdone though, and Danielle King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell were hot on their heels to break another world record and take gold, beating the USA by over five seconds with a time of 3:14 over the 3km laps.
The girls were still on form when Victoria Pendleton finished first in both of her heats to take gold over the 8 laps of the Keirin. The Brit sprinted the final 2.5 laps to take the top spot over silver and bronze winners Guo Shuang of China and Lee Wai Sze of Hong Kong respectively. Pendleton's equally famous compatriot olympian Chris Hoy also vanquished his opponents in both heats to secure gold over the 9 laps of the men's event which saw Germany's Maximilian Levy take silver and New Zealand's Simon van Velthooven and Teun Mulder of the Netherlands share Bronze!
A new event at the London 2012 Olympics was the Omnium which replaced the individual pursuit, the points race and the Madison at the games. The Omnium is the heptathlon of the track and consisted of a flying lap, a points race, an elimination race, and individual pursuit, a scratch race and an individual time trial. The incomprehensibly smiley Laura Trott finished at least top three in five of the events (1st in three of them!), getting 10th in the Points race. This gave her a one point lead over nearest rival Sarah Hammer of the USA and allowed her to take Gold over the USA's silver and Australia's Annette Edmondson in Bronze. Ed Clancy also podiumed in the men's event, as his victory in the flying lap and the time trial set him up for a bronze medal behind behind Denmark's Lasse Norman Hansen and France's Bryan Coquard respectively.
Smiley Laura Trott's paramour Jason Kenny found success in the Men's Sprint, a task which had weighed heavily on his shoulders following his selection for the event over Chris Hoy. Kenny secured the gold medal over France's Gregory Bauge in Silver position and Australia's Shane Perkins in Bronze. In her final event prior to her retirement, eager eyes watched Victoria Pendleton to see if she could achieve her second and final gold of the 2012 olympics in the women's sprint, but a debatable relegation in the first of her rounds against Anna Meares (a bit of elbow budging between the two riders saw Pendleton leave her sprint line – a choice of that or fall off the bike) meant “Queen Victoria” could only take the silver medal. She didn't care though, the expression on her face was one of relief and “I never have to ride a bike again if I don't want to”. I don't think any medal could have beaten that for her.
Over the cycling events at the London 2012 Olympics, Team GB managed to secure 8 gold medals, seven more than anyone else. They achieved 12 medals in total, six medals more than Germany who finished second in the medal table. It was, for want of a better word, an impressive haul and it was bloody impressive to watch too. For an insight into the atmosphere at these events, check out MaxCycling.tv's Matt Stephens' “Gamesmaker's Eye View” to the Olympic Cycling.
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