Who to watch for with Evans out of Olympic Time Trial
Following a surprising result in the men’s Olympic Road Race, where team tactics, the lack of race radio’s and official technical difficulties all played a part in determining the medal placings, thoughts now turn to the Time Trial event at Hampton Court Palace.
The Pro Tour season so far has seen a considerable amount of time trialling compared to other years, most recently with the 101.4km of racing against the clock at Le Tour de France where one man dominated over the longer distances. That man, Bradley Wiggins, is now set to increase his dominance in the race against the clock on Wednesday racing for Olympic gold.
Cadel Evans has unfortunately withdrawn from the time trial due to fatigue, which given his recent racing schedule and the type of attacking rather than defensive riding he has had to be doing, is not surprising. It’s a great shame not to have a time trialist of Evans’ quality at the Olympic games but it should not make the gold, silver or bronze any easier to win for any one man as there is still a healthy professional field to contend with.
Fabian Cancellara has reportedly fought off the shoulder injury he sustained in the Road Race to be able to compete on Wednesday although the Swiss’ camp made no mention of the injury and whether it would affect his form. In a year when so many have been on the back foot even before the first rider has gone down the ramp, Cancellara and his Swiss team cannot be criticised for keeping his cards close to his chest. The crash which he suffered in the closing stages of Saturday’s road race looked to have damaged the collar bone which he broke in four places during Radioshack-Nissan-Trek’s classic season campaign. With nothing broken on Saturday, Cancellara has mentioned it gave him some problems on the following day’s training ride but has since been tight lipped about his pain and his chances. With the quality of the rest of the field, and an injury, he has the potential to to be in for 44km of pain.
The current World Time Trial champion, Germany’s Tony Martin, has not kept his cards quite so close to his chest and suggested that Bradley Wiggins already has one hand on the time trial gold medal.
“There’s just one name and it’s Bradley Wiggins. He’s the one to beat,” said Martin.
Following an abandonment of stage 9 of the Tour de France after breaking his scaphoid and also abandoning the Olympic Road Race on Saturday, it would appear Tony Martin is being a realist rather than a pessimist. Even before he abandoned at Le Tour, Martin had spent most of his time on the back of the pack, nursing the injury he sustained on the first road stage until finally leaving the race with his eyes on recovery for the Olympics. His abandonment on Saturday was not as surprising. Any rider wishing to compete in the Olympic Time Trial must have been selected to ride the road race also. Germany effectively sacrificed Martin from the road race to allow him to be fit for the race against the clock. We all know that Tony Martin has a strong road pedigree but his focus on the run up to the Olympic Games has been towards the time trial. He did however manage to hang in to the race a little longer than Mickael Bourgain of France who left the road race very early on for the exact same reason; he was only there to participate in the time trial.
Wiggins’ team mate, Chris Froome probably has the greatest chance of knocking him off the top spot of the podium, if that is at all possible. Froome has ridden superbly in the last few months in defence of Wiggins’ GC positions, often to the detriment of his own race. Although still a teammate of The Modster, now he is away from ‘official’ Team Sky duties, it will be interesting to see how close Froome pushes Bradley over a distance they both excel at.
Other notable names to mention are Taylor Phinney (who finished 4th in the road race), Mick Rogers (who has the entire weight of a nation on his shoulders), Sylvain Chavanel and Ladies Love Sanchez (two men who would be genuine contenders for a medals if the course was not so long).
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