Cycling focus now switches to London
Well the 2012 Tour De France is done and dusted and that means for the many of us who train and race, we can thankfully get some sleep and get back into the swing of 5am starts. For the rest, it simply means more sleep.
Usually there is a small amount of respite between now and the next Grand Tour, being the Vuelta a España, which kicks off on the 18th August.
However, this is an Olympic year and the Olympic road race is basically the opening event and kicks off the day after the opening ceremony.
The men’s road will take place on 28 July in central and southwest London and north Surrey, starting and finishing in The Mall near Westminster.
The riders head south-west from the Mall to cross the River Thames at Putney Bridge and then through Richmond Park, Bushy Park and past Hampton Court Palace before undertaking nine loops of a circuit over Box Hill, after which the riders head back to the Mall for the finish.
The race is 250km (156 miles) long and will see 145 participants. Each country is limited to five men. Samuel Sánchez of Spain is the defending champion but crashed out in the 2012 Tour de France and will not be there to defend his gold.
The course has a Classics feel to it and promises to be a very exciting race, especially when you look at the make-up of several countries and the calibre of riders involved. You can also expect to see some nice new tech being rolled out.
Britain will have Brad Wiggins, Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish, David Millar and Ian Stannard. Millar was the GB road captain in Denmark at the World Championships last September when he organised a collective effort that resulted in Cavendish becoming only the second British rider ever to win the rainbow jersey.
Stannard helped Cavendish through the Giro and spent long hours on the front chasing down breaks to ensure a sprint finish so he is a real ‘Diesel’.
Australia has picked Stuart O’Grady, Michael Rogers (who will also compete in the TT), Simon Gerrans, Matt Goss and Cadel Evans. Evans met with Australian team director Matt White (DS of Orica-GreenEDGE) prior to the final stage of the TDF and a call will be made in the next 24-48 hours on whether Cadel will compete given he has been ill.
The reserves for the road team are Heinrich Haussler, Luke Durbridge, Mark Renshaw and Mat Hayman. It is understood that Richie Porte cannot be brought in as a late inclusion.
If Evans rules himself out, Australia might decide to only enter Rogers in the time trial and bring in a rider to beef up the road race team. Personally, I would bring in Renshaw to help lead Goss out.
There is a strong chance that the race will end in a bunch sprint and Goss will need all the help he can get if he wants to get over Cavendish, who finished the TDF in true world champion form. Renshaw is still the best lead out man in the business.
Now throw in the likes of Tom Boonen (Belgium), Cancellara (Switzerland), Michael Albasini (Switzerland), Peter Sagan (Slovakia), Andrew Griepel (Germany), Sylvain Chavanel (France), Boasson Hagen (Norway), Tyler Farrar (USA) and a whole host of other top internationals and you have a great mix.
Given the course profile the race you can certainly expect a break to go. The likes of Boonen, Cancellara, Albasini and Chavanel know that if they are to win gold then they need to stop a bunch sprint from happening.
If it comes down to a bunch sprint then Cavendish is the out and out favourite. Goss, Sagan and Griepel will be nipping at his heels, but Cav’s sprint win on Stage 18 was pure class.
He launched himself and burnt everyone to the ground when he kicked. He capped it off on stage 21 when he sprinted for a solid 350m.
Wiggins led Cavendish out on the final stage and showed that he could be a strong asset to Cav in London if a bunch sprint is on the cards.
If a break does go then expect Gerrans to jump and also be a threat as he is better sprinter than most ‘break’ riders. Whether he, and other in the potential break can stay on Boonen and Cancellara’s wheel for an extended period is hard to say.
Very few riders have shown they can do it. Both Cancellara and Boonen have continually shown that they can attack and win from a very long way out.
My top picks are Boonen (who has a broken rib but is expected to start), Cancellara and Cavendish.
Until next time, clip in!