Bradley Wiggins dominating the Olympic and most prolific Olympic
With the yellow jersey swapped for Stella McCartney’s blue and red creation, the Bradley Wiggins inside remained the same, dominating the Olympic time trial as he had done both the long contre la montre stages at the Tour de France to continue his annus mirabilis. The 32-year-old is now Britain’s most prolific Olympic, his gold medal taking his personal tally to seven, one ahead of Sir Steve Redgrave.
Continuing his unbeaten run in full-distance time trials this season, Wiggins finished 42sec ahead of the world champion Tony Martin of Germany, with the Tour de France runner-up Chris Froome giving Great Britain a second medal by taking bronze. With four events covered, the home cyclists’ tally stands at three medals in four events. In terms of momentum that can only bode well for the track events which start on Thursday.
Fabian Cancellara, the defending champion, whose participation had been in doubt following a heavy crash in the road race which had left him with a heavily bruised shoulder, was far from his usual imperious self. So often Wiggins’s nemesis in the past, the Swiss was out of the picture before half of the 44km had been covered. His deficit on Wiggins at the 18km mark was 31sec, which sounds minimal but represents a mountain in these circumstances.
“Wiggo, spin to win”, proclaimed the banner close to the start, along with the mod roundel which has become synonymous with the first British winner of the Tour de France, and the sideburned national hero’s legs spun smoothly enough, his back barely moving in spite of the effort, in contrast to Froome’s “busier” style and the American Taylor Phinney’s imitation of a nodding dog. He lay only second at the first checkpoint but pulled ahead by the second, 18.4km into the race. The rest was like his Tour de France: a seamless road to victory, with the difference that here he was cheered on by a vast crowd of mainly British support.
The men’s course was based on the same loop through Cobham and Esher as the women, but to make up the greater distance, two additional circuits were added: one at the start, westwards towards Walton on Thames, turning at the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir, and a second at the end north through Teddington and Strawberry Hill. The picture was the same as for the women’s event earlier in the afternoon: massive crowds thronging town centres and verdant lanes alike.
The crowds around the start and finish area, and across Hampton Court bridge, were gathered three and four deep on the barriers, union flags of all kinds waving in the breeze, cycling club jerseys proclaiming that they had travelled from all corners of the UK: Clitheroe, West Wales, south London. The passage of each rider, no matter their nationality, was greeted with a deafening drumming on the advertising hoardings.
The time trial may look seamless given the metronomic progress of most of the participants, but plenty can go wrong. Luis-León Sánchez, a stage winner in the Tour de France, had his progress halted within metres of descending the start ramp when his chain snapped, and then followed that up with a puncture; the New Zealander Jack Bauer misjudged a bend and came close to crashing. In a discipline where medals can be decided by seconds, such incidents can be catastrophic.
The initial running was made by Tony Martin of Germany, the reigning time trial world champion, who broke a bone in his wrist during the Tour de France, and pulled out early in Saturday’s road race to save his strength for today. After just under 8km he led Wiggins and Cancellara by six seconds, with the American Taylor Phinney at 9sec and Froome a further 1sec behind. The battle for medals was clearly going to be tight.
Ten kilometres later, the picture had become clearer: Wiggins led with 23-14, 11sec ahead of Martin, the gold medal battle looking to be between the world champion and the Tour winner. Froome was 24sec down on Wiggins, while Cancellara’s challenge was fading, his time being 23-45 to Phinney’s 23-59.
The final time check, in Esher High Street, with 15km to run, reflected the Tour champion’s dominance. Martin had slipped away again, 23sec back, Froome was now at 42sec, with Cancellara now at 1min 20sec. Shortly after passing through the town, belting down the Portsmouth Road, Wiggins overtook Sánchez, who had started four and a half minutes ahead, and disappeared into the distance, a Ferrari to a horse and cart. That image said it all: Wiggins dominant in a final triumphant lap of honour at the end of the greatest summer of his life. – Guardian (uk)