Commonwealth Games - Cycling: Millar bronze, Cav beaten

Sun, 10 Oct 14:00:00 2010

Scotland’s David Millar took Commonwealth Games road race bronze, while Mark Cavendish’s Isle of Man amateur team-mates were unable to help him into the medals in Delhi.

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Australia’s Allan Davis won gold and New Zealand's Hayden Roulston grabbed silver as the competing teams colluded to ensure king sprinter Cavendish did not have a run at a finish that he would have surely taken.

Cavendish arrived in Delhi with his mouth motoring as fast as his bike, slamming absent Manx team-mates Peter and Tim Kennaugh for letting the side down.

And, bereft of sufficient support from his all-amateur team-mates, the 25-year-old Manxman cut a forlorn figure after a gallant bid ended in vain with just a few kilometres to go: he finished seventh.

Davis was the best sprinter in the leading pack, while Millar clinched an excellent bronze with his preferred time trial to come.

Cavendish's dominance in sprint finishes is unquestioned and as a result the breakaway pack ensured the 164km race - 12 laps of a 13.7km pan-flat circuit - did not end in a bunch sprint.

It was seemingly tailor-made but New Zealand and then Australia made sure that Cavendish did not get his shot at glory.

Kiwi Gordon McCauley and Northern Ireland's David McCann made the early breakaway and stretched their lead to three minutes at the halfway stage and, with three laps to go, three riders upped their intentions to join them.

New Zealand duo Jack Bauer and Roulston and Canada's Zak Bell joined the leaders at the three laps to go mark, threatening Cavendish's chances of a sprint finish.

Australia, powered by Cameron Meyer who already has three gold medals in Delhi, broke off the peleton but despite their best efforts, they could not shake Cavendish.

But Cavendish was a marked man and was constantly attacked by the Australian members of the chasing pack as they tried to weaken his legs for the sprint - and finally they succeeded.

Millar, a twice world silver medallist, also stuck with the Australian chasers and they swept up the five-man breakaway.

They swallowed up the leaders but Bauer made his burst with 30km to go and extended a lead to 30 seconds, only to be caught with 20km remaining.

Millar, not a renowned sprinter, made the make and most of the leading pack followed - but not Cavendish who did not have the legs to stay with the pack.

Cavendish looked out of contention but dragged himself back to the leaders, only for one more attack to prove pivotal.

Millar went again and was joined by Davis, Team Sky's Australian rider Chris Sutton and Roulston - but Cavendish had had enough.

Try as he might Millar tried to break away again, only too aware that Davies is the superior sprinter but he could not shake the Australian riders who ensured both road race gold medals are now heading Down Under after Rochelle Gilmore's earlier victory.

In claiming the Milan-San Remo crown last year, he expunged all doubt that he is a one-trick pony but not even Cavendish can take on the peleton alone - not that he's likely to admit it.


England’s Lizzie Armitstead took silver in the Commonwealth Games road race but Australia won gold through Rochelle Gilmore.

Armitstead, England team-mates Sharon Laws and Emma Pooley and Wales' Nicole Cooke all arrived in the Indian capital harbouring medal hopes - and there is little love lost between the quartet.

While Cooke was hoping to add to her 2002 victory in Manchester, she could only manage fifth place as Armitstead produced a stirring finish to capture silver.

"I just felt like I let the girls down a little bit. They did a really good job today," said Armitstead. "I waited a little bit and I hesitated, because I wanted the job to get done right until the line. I should have made the split decision to get on a wheel instead.

"They did a perfect job. But for our first attempt as a team - we've not even tried it in training - I'm really impressed and I think we can only get better. Come London 2012 we should be a forced to be reckoned with."

Cooke was in the hunt in the closing stages but was somewhat isolated without the support of her Wales team-mates, while Armitstead left her burst late and could not quite secure gold.

That honour went to Australia's Gilmore having been superbly delivered to the line by compatriot Megan Dunn, 19, who has already won scratch and points race gold in Delhi.

"Today we got the big win. It was a perfect race by the team. We've been thinking about this for two years," said Gilmore. 

"We wanted to control the race to set up the sprint and we rode perfectly despite everyone throwing everything at us.

"I stayed out of trouble and kept drinking a lot of water, and I think that helped in the end. I'm extremely happy."

With an extra 50 metres, gold would surely have been Armitstead's but despite her blistering finish, she ran out of road and had to settle for silver, just pipping Australia's Chloe Hosking, who took bronze.

For Cooke it capped a disappointing year as the Olympic champion again missed out on a major podium.

"I could have got my tactics better at the finish but I don't know if I'd been able to have beaten the riders that got the medals considering their quality," said Cooke.

"I think I did pretty well with a fifth place against some strong opposition."

Last month she was forced to settle for fourth place at the World Championships in Geelong, Australia - and once more she has ended up empty-handed.

She was also forced to relinquish her national title - a crown she has monopolised for the last decade - as Pooley took gold and ensured there was no 10th straight title for Cooke.

At the national championships, Cooke hit out at the tactics of her rivals, claiming it was unfair that Pooley, Laws and Armitstead could team up against her.

That wasn't the case in Delhi however as it was the Australian team and Antipodean rivals New Zealand making the running, with Cooke seamingly perfectly poised to make her break.

Four years ago she was heavily marked out of the race in Melbourne and had to settle for bronze, but she cannot claim she did not have the chance this time around.

But as Gilmore made her break, Cooke was caught napping and only Armitstead could respond.

Meanwhile, England's Lucy Martin came home in 14th place, two ahead of compatriot Katie Colcough while Pooley and Laws finished further down the field.

Pooley can console herself in the fact that the time trial, the event in which she is the Olympic and silver medallist and world champion, is still to come on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, both Cooke and Armitstead admitted their frustrations at being denied the opportunity to warm up on the pan-flat course, despite assurances they would be allowed to.

"We were told we were going to have a practice session on the course but you couldn't get worked up about it, it was the same for everyone," added Cooke.

Armistead added: "It was a little bit crap that we couldn't train that hard and we've been on rollers for the last few days, which has been a bit rubbish."


Fans were shut out of the road race after police cut off access to New Delhi's central districts, once again embarrassing the organisers with yet another event no one was watching.

It was virtual curfew in downtown Delhi as the cyclists made through some of the city's British-era landmarks and wide leafy boulevards on a 13.7-km route, dodging past scampering stray dogs and newspapers and plastic bags blowing in the hot wind.

Images of desolate roads and stands that could have been filled with thousands of cheering fans, often the soul of road events, beamed across the world, bringing more bad news for a Games that has lurched from one crisis to another.

There was no official bar on spectators but access to the venue was virtually denied after police blocked off roads, diverted traffic and closed down some underground stations to enforce security in a city with a history of militant attacks.

As the cyclists rode up and back the grand King's Way from the India Gate memorial toward parliament and the presidential palace, the wide lawns on either side lay empty, contrasting with a normal Sunday when the place jostles with tourists, picnickers and young lovers strolling around.

Police said security was paramount and that securing a road event in a city of 16 million people was always more challenging.

"It was an outdoor and open event so security was required at designated places," said Rajan Bhagat, spokesman of Delhi Police.

"We haven't received any (complaints) from general public or Games visitors. Only necessary barricades and pickets were erected to ensure smooth flow of the cycling event."

Athletes and team coaches have complained about woeful attendances. Erratic security measures and the myriad of problems in the build-up and during the Games have kept away the fans, leaving many athletes, including Indian gold medal-winners, to compete before near-empty stands.

The $6 billion Games, which India had hoped would display its ability to run a world class event, has become an embarrassment to the nation.

On Sunday, security was also tight around Dhyan Chand stadium along the cycling route where neighbouring rivals India and Pakistan were scheduled to play a hockey match.

Thousands of gun-wielding police guarded the 13,000-seat stadium which sits smack in the middle of Delhi's bustling business district. Normally, Connaught Place is a cacophony of blaring traffic, thousands of pedestrians and vendors.

On Sunday there was no traffic there and people were not even allowed to cross over along the cycling route.

"I work as cleaning staff in a nearby building. I haven't been allowed even to fetch food from the neighbourhood dhaba (restaurant) and I was told to stay inside the building till late evening," said Vikram, who did not give his surname.

More Than The Games / Reuters

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