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The Moment The Olympics Were Won

Greg Van Avermaet crosses the finish line in Rio. The obvious winning moment and in the absence of many photos from the race the image is a good cue as it shows him well ahead of Jakob Fuglsang and Rafał Majka. The Belgian arrived with these two rivals and the result seemed inevitable given his sprinting ability, a rare moment of certainty in a wild and unpredictable race.

The actual winning moment came with 70km to go when Van Avermaet jumped on the Vista Chinesa climb along with Damiano Caruso and Geraint Thomas, a move that put him at the front of affairs.

Grumari beach

The race began and opened like a tourist promotional video with azure seas and swank beaches packed with basking bathers, the video just needed a sweeping soundtrack, maybe some John Barry or Bossa Nova.

After 15km a move went clear with Michał Kwiatkowski, Jarlinson Pantano, Simon Geschke, Sven Bystøm, Michael Albasini and Pavel Kochetkov. Some strong riders rather than the usual fodder. In the days before Kwiatkowski had said he’d be working for Majka and this proved to be no bluff. They had eight minutes at one point.

Who is who?
It was harder to identify the riders in their national kit, a deductive matrix of determining nationality then looking for clues as to their trade team. Take Albasini above, not immediately obvious but you see the Scott bike with Shimano and can work out it’s him. Others had some custom kit, see Kwiatkowski on his Pinarello but with what look like Carbonsports Lightweight wheels while Chris Froome was on Enve wheels (built by Strada, the first ever sponsors on this site). Simon Geschke meanwhile was immediately visible and his beard is becoming a trademark, it brings him extra visibility.

Cobbles and Crosswinds
Along the beach rode the cobbles caused trouble for some. Several riders had mechanicals, some found their seatposts slipping, Greg Van Avermaet suffered a puncture, Porte jammed his chain and Bauke Mollema had all sorts of mechanical woes. The Czech team tried to exploit the crosswinds and cobbles. It was odd, the scenery too glam for the kind of racing we normally expect in De Panne. Instead of making the break Stephen Cummings was chasing it and seemed to be working for a British plan with Ian Stannard also working hard. Spain’s Jonathan Castroviejo was also a big worker. It was becoming clearer that several nations had defined plans and were working for a leader rather than a loose assembly of riders in shared jerseys. Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas took a more than sneaky tow but perhaps the commissaires, in the words of the Girl from Ipanema didn’t see, didn’t see.

The race reached the Vista Chinesa circuit and the breakaway split on the early slopes as Kwiatkowski drove the pace and only Kochetkov could follow. Behind Cummings had closed the gap by minutes but was used up and Castroviejo took over, his broad shoulders forming a windbreak for the peloton lined up on his back wheel.

The Italian Job
With 70km to go Damiano Caruso attacked from the bunch and was joined by Greg Van Avermaet and Geraint Thomas. The luxury of hindsight allows us to see how important this move was, Caruso was going up the road for his team leaders, to force others to chase and to act as a relay for Vincenzo Nibali later on. Van Avermaet meanwhile was getting in the mix of the race just at the same time as other classics riders like Philippe Gilbert and Edvald Boasson Hagen were being dropped. Thomas was a synthesis of the two, a relay for Froome if needed but also a handy finisher himself. The trio were joined by Sergio Henao and Rein Taaramäe. Kwiatkowski and Kochetkov led over the top of the first climb and began the second climb with the chasers closing in. Kwiatkowski kept the pressure up by going solo with 47km to go but within two kilometres he was caught by the Van Avermaet group. Soon after Andrey Zeits of Kazakhstan (and Astana we should note) flew across from the peloton to the breakaway.

The Italian Job, Part II
Over the top of the climb for the penultimate climb and what was left of the peloton was down to about 30 riders as they kept the breakaway within check if not reach. It was on the descent that the race was shaken up by a big attack from Vincenzo Nibali with Fabio Aru for company. The pace was too much for some with Richie Porte and Nelson Oliveira crashing on the descent. There’s rarely a good place to crash downhill at speed but unlike some Alpine descents there was no soft grass, just a deep gutter, the kind needed to drain a road in the tropics. As the descent ended Nibali and Aru had the breakaway within sight and Caruso was waiting as their relay man. Adam Yates, Jacob Fuglsang and Rafał Majka made it across too on the back of the Italian train. Behind the chase didn’t look convincing, Fabian Cancellara was trying but he’d been dropped earlier and so this wasn’t vintage Spartacus. In the space of the descent Nibali had taken 50 seconds on his rivals.

As they climbed the Vista Chinesa for the last time Van Avermaet was hanging on up the climbs in the company of Nibali, Majka, Henao, Yates and Aru. He’d been doing well in the Tour de France, remember he won Stage 5 to Le Lioran after dispatching Rafał Majka for the stage win and yellow jersey and days later extended his lead in the yellow jersey after going in the breakaway. Still he remains a one day race specialist and the others knew it, who wanted to take him to the finish? Nobody but who wanted to work hard either? It was Nibali who launched two attacks. Nibali had to shake Van Avermaet and decisively, there was no point taking 10-20 seconds only to see the Belgium come back in time for the sprint. The Italian was joined by Henao and Majka. The trio had every reason to collaborate, a medal each but also as climbers they were going to pay in the finish if they were caught. The trio led over the top of the final climb as behind everyone was taking their chances. Chris Froome had attacked but didn’t look as incisive as he was caught and passed by Rui Costa and then Julian Alaphilippe came flying past, the Frenchman getting within sight of the Van Avermaet chase group.

Down Canoas Creek
The disaster struck for Nibali as he crashed out on the way down. Was he worried about Henao’s sprint and so trying to force him into a mistake, was he just trying to take as much time as possible? Either way he and Henao crashed hard. Another case of all or nothing for Nibali, reminiscent of his fall in the Florence Worlds in 2014. He can win big and when he doesn’t he often enlivens a race. This time though his legs didn’t give way, his wheels did as he crashed on the final. We’ll never know if he could have got a medal but if Majka was able to stay away then a trio with guaranteed medals could have. But to finish first, first finish. Another faller was Julian Alaphilippe who fell on the descent but got up and got back to the chase group but struggled with a damaged bike.

Majka led along the beachfront with 20 seconds at the 5km to go point and try as hard as he could he was losing time, his hands on the brakehoods rather than in a low tuck. His hope was a disparate chase behind but among the stop-start moments Jakob Fuglsang jumped and Van Avermaet followed and the two were away with Majka in their sights.

For Van Avermaet the sprint looked like a formality or rather it should be only how were his legs after that effort? Fuglsang is a top quality rider but a most infrequent winner, he’s won more races overall than he has stages or one day races. Majka was as cooked as Bigos. Sure enough Van Avermaet launched his sprint and won by several bike lengths. Fuglsang crossed the line with a smile and a fist-pump.

The Verdict
A gripping race. The early moments were formulaic but the scenery was stunning and the imagery enhanced by tactical features such as the beachside cobbles and the jungle road up to the Grumari lookout. The race was thinned down on the Vista Chinesa circuit.

There’s no doubting the manner of the win. A one day race can always throw up a fluke result but this time the race proved selective and the winner was consistently part of the action. Van Avermaet went in a move on Vista Chinesa-Canoas circuit with 70km to go. This was no cautious “hang on in case of a sprint” tactic, he put himself in the front of the action rather than wait for the last time up the climb when the pace would have been too much.

Van Avermaet could not follow Nibali’s moves though, the Italian was the best rider up the Vista Chinesa climb in the race, his downhill attack was both bold and part of a tactical masterclass but it all fell apart with 15km to go and we never quite saw the crash. Which brings us to the TV, the production was lacking in areas. The moto cameras shaky and struggled to follow the riders on the descents. The were long periods when the race was in-play but there were no time gaps and if you wanted to know what was going on you had to time them yourself. All this despite a timing chip on every rider’s forks and a transponder under the saddle. Similarly it was impossible to get the full composition of the peloton. The tech exists, it’s existed for years and really needs to be deployed by now.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Igam Ogam Sunday, 7 August 2016, 1:13 pm

    Thanks! I missed it but this makes up for it a little.

    • Igam Ogam Sunday, 7 August 2016, 1:16 pm

      BTW Good choice of John Barry score. Hopefully someone will set a video review to the soundtrack
      🙂

  • Richard S Sunday, 7 August 2016, 1:18 pm

    We’ve been treated to some good races this year. This and Paris-Roubaix were top drawer. I disagree that the early stages were formulaic, the riders in the early break were unusually good. Also the cobbled section kept it lively early on. Hopefully those in charge st the Ardennes classics were watching and took note that a one day race is much better when it finishes after the last climb rather than on top of it.

    • Morten Reippuert Sunday, 7 August 2016, 4:46 pm

      uphill, downhill, flat finnish – doesnt matter.

      team size and radio size matters – small teams (from 2-5) and no radios ment all out racing.

      • Vedrafjord Sunday, 7 August 2016, 8:08 pm

        But everyone agrees that this year’s Paris Roubaix was amazing, and that had radios and 9 man teams. So parcours is probably the biggest factor. I don’t see how having radios would have changed yesterday’s race in any way. Even with small teams the peloton did a very good job of keeping the break dangling.

      • CA Monday, 8 August 2016, 5:20 pm

        Agree with Vedrafjord – race radios didn’t make a difference. The riders were going all out with very limited options for team tactics.

        Similarly with team sizes. Even if the top riders had 9-guys each, the course was so selective that the teams’ 4-9th riders would have fallen off the back early on. The extra depth would’ve purely filled up the broom wagon quicker.

        • gabriele Monday, 8 August 2016, 5:26 pm

          What would have changed was going to be the very first part of the race (the nature, composition and effects of the break – and thus of the chase), with obvious consequences on the intensity distribution along the whole race.
          I’m not defending an extension of this race’s characteristics to the rest of races (that would deserve a thorough discussion), but I think that while I couldn’t be able to say much about possible effect of radios on *this* race, besides a couple of anecdotal situatoins, on the contrary smaller teams had, for sure, very evident effects.

    • gabriele Sunday, 7 August 2016, 4:52 pm

      +1

      Both with an especially cruel final result, from my personal POV (without taking anything away from the hugely deserved gold for GVA). How do they say? “Karma is a bitch”.

      I’ve watched pretty much the whole race (as I did for P-R) and the first part was really interesting, too, not only because of the quality of the break but also since you could study how the chasing teams in the peloton organised the work and managed the rhythm. Something especially compelling when it can’t be done by a single team and when using even a single man in an early phase might prove very costly in the finale.
      I don’t know how many sport can offer some six hours or more of entertaining show, admittedly not always five out of five stars, but pretty much starting from three and above (also thanks to the landscape or, more in general, to the purely visual factor? Sure – obviously so I’d say – and the panoramic aspect is a great feature of cycling, indeed).
      And the last 100 kms (2-3 hrs) were pure adrenaline in both races.
      More cumulative time of constantly exciting racing than the whole TdF I’d say. Things were always happening and when they didn’t you could really expect something to be about to happen in a few minutes time.

      • Ecky Thump Sunday, 7 August 2016, 7:29 pm

        I’m not sure what the point is about smaller teams.
        There’s absolutely no way that such small team sizes as yesterday could be replicated in a three week Grand Tour. The riders would be on their knees before even a week was out.

        • Vedrafjord Sunday, 7 August 2016, 9:13 pm

          Plus one day racing and GTs are fundamentally different. Having to measure their efforts out over 3 weeks to not blow up is a major reason why GC riders are often cautious.

          Also, having international teams means a very different race. If you’re Belgium or Norway you can’t just go buy a mountain train for example, you have to work with what you’ve got. This led to different teams having very different approaches, for example the Czech Republic trying to shred the bunch on the cobbles.

          The course design yesterday was by far the biggest factor though. It had serious attrition, it gave multiple different types of rider the chance to win, and it encouraged action from far out. The climbers knew that with a descent and a flat run-in, they couldn’t leave it late. Conversely the classics guys who are used to 250km races knew their stamina could count in the flat finale if they could get over the climbs.

          • Richard S Sunday, 7 August 2016, 10:24 pm

            Hence why I think at least Fleche Wallone and Liege need a rejigg

        • gabriele Monday, 8 August 2016, 5:27 pm

          See reply to CA above. I could go into greater detail, but not now…
          However, I’m not defending at all smaller teams throughout all the year’s races (nor I’m against that): it’s a complex matter, I’m speaking just of this single race.

      • BenW Monday, 8 August 2016, 11:25 am

        Nailed it, I couldn’t agree more. Watched it with my girlfriend (who’s coming round to cycling, slowly, it’s only taken her two years! haha) and she was glued to it too. The whole race was interesting, from start to finish, though yes the coverage lacked a little bit.

  • haps Sunday, 7 August 2016, 1:21 pm

    thanx for a great write-up.
    I think this might end up being one of my favorite races of the year.
    The part I saw, the route seemed really cool with the jungle climb/decent and also the mix of GC riders, lieutenants & one-day specialist. – Astana was quite well represented at the end of the race? – where they racing with or against each other?
    It was respectable to see Valverde work in favor of Purito in the chase as well.
    Production was not at the hight of the racing nor the race course.
    Will the MTB with Sgan be televised?

  • TripodApe Sunday, 7 August 2016, 1:44 pm

    Welsh crash magnet Geriant Thomas must be really cursing his fall. After all his hard work, sticking with some exceptional climbers and seeing Nibali and Henao both go down, he seemed well placed (although that’s an educated guess given the shonky TV coverage) to contest the flat run in to the finish.

    • Morten Reippuert Sunday, 7 August 2016, 4:51 pm

      GWA, Fuglsang and Meijntes had dropped Thomas on the last part of the ascent. Thomas was chasing to catch up as crashed.

      Fuglsang says that he deliberately eased off before those crash prone corners on the 3rd descent.

      Like wise – Fuglsang was clear of Aurau and Nibali on the 2nd decend but eased up due to some bumbs exactly where Nibali, Henao, Porte, Thomas and Olivera crashed.

      • Marc Monday, 8 August 2016, 12:41 pm

        Not true. Alaphillipe and Thomas were leading that chase group behind the front 3, on the hairpin near the top of the descent, on the last shot we got of them before the Nibali crash.

        Thomas fell at the same corner as Van Vleuten, the last of the descent, so had a great medal shout – unfortunately!

  • Dr. Fly Sunday, 7 August 2016, 1:48 pm

    Outstanding writeup of a compelling race. 100℅ agree re: production could have been much better… similar complaints bedeviled the Richmond Worlds, IIRC. As a result the commissaires weren’t the only ones who just didn’t see (brilliant, BTW). The absence of time gaps was frustrating, though honestly it kept me riveted to the TV, looking for opportunities to time riders myselfor to listen for time gaps from the commentators.

    I wonder if Sagan is rueing his decision to skip the road race, given this result 🙂

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 7 August 2016, 4:32 pm

      Several have mentioned Sagan in the light of GVA’s win but I think the Belgian was climbing better, remember he got the better of De Gendt on the way to Le Lioran in the Tour de France and was climbing with Nibali on the Col d’Aspin.

      • Morten Reippuert Sunday, 7 August 2016, 4:55 pm

        Sagan was climbing quite well in the final week in the Alpes as well – i think he somehow regrets it seeing GWA and Allaphilipe doing so well on the course – and that smaller teams where in the medals (denmark 3, Poland 4)

        I do hope he takes a medal in the XC race – on the other hand he is 26, he will have two more olympics and tere is practicly no oneday course he cant conquer.

        • Nicktarios Sunday, 7 August 2016, 5:58 pm

          For all his wonderful attributes, Sagan wouldn’t have been in that final selection. He doesn’t quite climb as well as GVA, certainly not compared to Allaphilipe.

          • SamA Sunday, 7 August 2016, 11:57 pm

            Yeah, but he coulda pulled back chunks of time on the descent…

        • Anonymous Sunday, 7 August 2016, 6:37 pm

          Exactly as Nicktarios – GVA is a far superior climber to Sagan, as well as more astute tactically.
          On a long day like that Sagan (if he got to the end in the lead bunch) would have ended up leading people out.

          • Dave Sunday, 7 August 2016, 7:49 pm

            Remind me which jersey Sagan’s been modelling all year? Sagan being tactically naïve sits alongside Nibali being the best descender in the lazy commentary clichés box.

          • Chrisman Sunday, 7 August 2016, 9:16 pm

            Wasn’t a day for tactics really, my take is it was all down to pure class and willpower…and it has Sagan-Avemart 1-2 all over it.

          • J Evans Monday, 8 August 2016, 12:18 pm

            Dave, Sagan’s tactical ineptness has been displayed so many times.
            Just one example was in the TdF when he was in a group with three Orica riders and yet he was doing most of the work – and he lost the sprint.
            As with Nibali’s descending, some things are cliches because they’re true.

  • Steppings Sunday, 7 August 2016, 1:58 pm

    Fantastic race from start to finish, a Bookies dream! The so called “dodgy” tv production and lack of time gaps etc. seem so often to be a feature of Olympic races, which to me all adds to the uniqueness and drama. Certainly no complaints and in the Uk we were treated to Chris Boardman’s straight talking commentary, abelt his own recent tragic family circumstances, so fair play to him. You could almost write a book on the If’s, but’s and Maybe’s of that race but in the end I was happy to see GVA take the win. Happy now I can celebrate a true hardman with the Olympic Gold.

  • Stefi Sunday, 7 August 2016, 2:30 pm

    I don’t know what Yates was doing, he got dropped from GVA group or was he waiting for Froome, anyway Froome didn’t had the legs which was obvious when Alaphillipe dropped him.
    Big mistake from Alaphillipe to not fallow the attack of GVA and Fuglsang he would at list taken a medal.

    • Morten Reippuert Sunday, 7 August 2016, 5:01 pm

      He tried – Fuglsang went really hard for a long time to avoid especially Allaphilipe to latch on.

      When Fuglsang saw that GWA was on his whel he thought “damm – but at least GWA would work so he was sure that they would catch Majka, and if they could keep Allaphillipe away he could always hope that GWA would drop his chain in the sprint”

    • Chrisman Sunday, 7 August 2016, 9:15 pm

      Tactics kind of went out of the window from 50k in. It was desperate, people just giving it full gas till they could give no more. Made no sense for Fuglsang to lead out Van Avemart, but he did it anyway…because it’s all he could do. Everyone left it all on the road. Alaphillipe gave too much chasing. Everyone just gave everything. I wondered what Froome was doing and I thought one thing he isn’t doing is getting back to the hotel wondering ‘what might have been.’

      • gabriele Monday, 8 August 2016, 2:40 pm

        Absolutely NOT what was happening…

    • Vitus Monday, 8 August 2016, 3:52 am

      Alaphillipe had massive mechanical problems in the back of this group. Seemed he just can’t do like he may wanted.

  • D. Sunday, 7 August 2016, 3:02 pm

    It was almost as fun to see Froome flail. And take down all the Brits in his sucking.

    Nice comment about lightweight wheels. Yet again, when freed of trade teams, many top riders still make some equipment choices that us posers would make ourselves. I noticed quite a few minor substitutions on Olympic rule-mandated, slightly debadged trade team kit.

    Race of year so far.

    • Alex222 Sunday, 7 August 2016, 4:16 pm

      “take down all the Brits”, except Geraint Thomas who was looking good for a medal before coming off

    • Langster Espresso Sunday, 7 August 2016, 7:48 pm

      Wow, check out the Schadenfreude!
      I think the only GB rider sacrificed for ‘plan froome’ was Cummings. It was a shame he didn’t get a chance to go in a breakaway.

      • hoh Monday, 8 August 2016, 4:52 am

        Not sure there even is such thing as “Plan Froome”. From all the GB sources I’ve read it was “Plan Thomas” all along. (Most agree it suits Thomas better)

        The plan was probably to have Froome policing the peloton (and counter if break got caught) whilst Thomas & Yates infrutrating the break. They even practiced it the weekend before at Ride London. Unfortunately, Thomas crashed, Froome wasn’t able to bridge with Nibali on that decent and Yates can’t keep up with the front group. But that is racing, and shit happens.

        The only thing not quite making sense was Froome attacking out of the peloton. What was he trying to achieve? To try and lead Thomas out in the final? Fancy his own power in sprint? Surely he knew that even if he bridged, he’s quite hopeless sprinting against quite a few guys there (well, truth be told you never know about his sprinting). Given the TT coming up, surely he should have saved himself some energy. Can’t help feeling that vanity got the better of him.

        • BenW Monday, 8 August 2016, 11:30 am

          Sounds about right to me – Thomas or Yates were more likely plans than Froome. The BBC didn’t help things by reporting beforehand that Froome’s mere presence meant him going for gold – despite the success British riders have had, our domestic media still can’t shake the idea that Tour de France winner means “perfectly suited to all races everywhere”.

  • Chris Dyke Sunday, 7 August 2016, 4:26 pm

    Aru also on Lightweight wheels yesterday, any ideas why riders were dabbling outside of trade team hoops?

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 7 August 2016, 4:28 pm

      Because they can, they’re not racing for their pro team but just have to comply with the UCI rules.

      • Chris Dyke Sunday, 7 August 2016, 4:35 pm

        Still thought trade pressure would have insisted on continuity

      • Chris Dyke Sunday, 7 August 2016, 4:39 pm

        Thought trade pressure would have insisted on continuity, guess not

    • Morten Reippuert Sunday, 7 August 2016, 5:04 pm

      because its the best wheel out there… an in the olympic event they are not bound by sponsor choice

  • CM Sunday, 7 August 2016, 4:35 pm

    @D
    +1 about the wheels. I run on Lighweight but I must admit that Kwiatkowski is such an easy rider to watch I didn’t even notice his wheels.

    • Tom Monday, 8 August 2016, 1:42 pm

      What does that even *mean*?

      • Oreos Monday, 8 August 2016, 2:36 pm

        It means he want to brag about having LightWeight wheels

  • James Mehigan Sunday, 7 August 2016, 4:52 pm

    The BBC commentators (including Chris Boardman) were speculating that Froome’s bike change (which led to the chase back behind the British Cycling team car) was a tactical change as the first circuit had passed. Can anyone confirm or refute this?

    Also, there were no radios and small teams, can we draw a causal link with that and the exciting racing?

    Great preview and review of a great race. Thanks.

    • KubaWinter Sunday, 7 August 2016, 4:58 pm

      I think it was more because of small star packed teams. Radios are overestimated by general public. I spent some WT races in a team car and trust me it’s almost all obvious comments: save the leg, go to the front, do you need something.

      • The Inner Ring Sunday, 7 August 2016, 5:05 pm

        Likewise, there’s not much that can be controlled from the car. Remember the live TV images are delayed and reports over the official race radio channel take time.

        • Ferdi Monday, 8 August 2016, 12:23 am

          I might be wrong, but I seem to remember you saying that if DS want radios it’s exactly because they want to control from the car. At any rate, if radios didn’t make much difference, then why all that stubbornness in keeping them around?

          • KubaWinter Monday, 8 August 2016, 8:55 am

            For safety reasons first. Secondly, a little bit of control, or at least theoretical, control has never harmed anyone, has it? 😉

      • wojo Monday, 8 August 2016, 7:32 pm

        agreed , what a great team work and another great result for Majka…
        reminds me of Ponferrada when entire team worked for Kwiatkowski

        Note: I liked the Inner Ring comment that in the last kilometers Majka was as cooked as bigos …:) good one

    • Morten Reippuert Sunday, 7 August 2016, 5:02 pm

      Bike change was illigal – car cant go up the road and wait the the bike ready.

      the multiple minuttes team car + 60km/t draft for him and Thomas was illigal as well.

      • Tovarishch Monday, 8 August 2016, 9:59 am

        Which regulation is that?

  • KubaWinter Sunday, 7 August 2016, 4:56 pm

    Yeap, Kwiato rode on Leightweights. You can see them being prepared in a gallery here: http://rowery.org/2016/08/06/prosto-rio-tuz-przed-startem/

    Polish team once again did wonderful job. Kwiato in the breakaway, Bodi and Gołaś protecting Majka on the first loops. Then former WC waiting for his colleague and driving him down the descent and keeping the pace despite cramps. Bene, bene.

    • Richard S Sunday, 7 August 2016, 6:39 pm

      I agree. The English commentators were saying that the Italians always seem to put ego aside and pull well together in big championships. On recent evidence the Poles are the same.

      • John Cowley Monday, 8 August 2016, 12:53 am

        Yes, that comment about the Italians made me feel old. I started sounding off about the way they always used to ride against each other in the years before Cipollini’s win, and then I realised how long ago that was…

  • gabriele Sunday, 7 August 2016, 5:02 pm

    Unluckily, Froome proves one more that despite a nice form, he still lacks a couple of skills you really need to be a great all-around racer (and which are important in GTs, too, even if not in all of them…): namely, the ability to produce a *different* and varied range (duration, intensity) of top-power performances in *different* and not-so-predictable moments of the race (his attempt to chase and the subsequent difficulties he found himself in… looked sadly Romandie-like) and a general lack of intuition when *reading the race* is involved.
    I was especially disappointed by the latter (the first one may be a biological limitation) because his actions in the TdF lead me to hope he had worked on that, precisely in order to perform well in Rio. But the level of unpredictability was clearly higher, here, that is – too high (during the TdF the descent attack had been prepared, IMHO, and in the case of the beautiful Sagan move at least he already knew he had to stay on the front and be prepared to take advantage of crosswinds). Maybe the lack of race radios had a part in that, too, but I’m not so sure about it.
    What some of us were commenting some time ago about the *relatively* disappointing performances by Froome in most races far from the TdF was along these lines: I’m not expecting Froome to perform as well as Nibali, who is a better one-day racer and, on top of that, who sacrificed the whole TdF in order to make of it a training for Rio; nor as Alaphilippe or GVA, who are quite gifted in one-day races.
    Yet, something on the level of Purito, Aru, Majka, Meintjes, Rui Costa or Kangert was totally *due*. Especially since he looked like he was at ease during the last part of the TdF, whereas several of the riders I named were fighting hard.
    That’s really surprising and disappointing: a 12th place is great for 99% of riders, but not so much for a supposed absolute top rider… on a course that, after all, was far from unfavourable to GT riders.

    Once again I can’t but think that’s a shame that Thomas’ options in one-day races are being thrown away to explore his GT potential…

    Martin and Yates disappointed me, too, but I understand that they were really giving everything during the TdF and perhaps they’ve got a little less stamina and recover than the other guys I named above. Reportedly, Bardet and Poels were just having a bad day.

    However, the biggest surprise was Valverde fully sacrificing himself for Purito, as he properly had done for Quintana in the TdF. He probably felt he didn’t have the legs to win, but it’s precisely in similar conditions that, in the past, he used to spoil his teammates chances…

    • CM Sunday, 7 August 2016, 8:47 pm

      You are right, I think. It seems sure that Froome is closer to being a one-dimensional rider and team-dependent than not.
      And as you intimate, he’s been found out before.
      For example, I recall Robert Millar’s excellent and prescient suggestion prior to the 2014 TdF, in which Froome crashed out in the wet in Belgium, that SKY should have entered Frome in a few Kermesse races to try to gain him some street smarts, tactical ability, smoother cornering and tougher handling precisely because he was a dodgy prospect in the streets that year.
      But I also think in Rio 2016 this small-team road race was not on Froome’s agenda; indeed he was there to boost Thomas’ prospects. Froome’s personal target in Rio is surely the time-trial.

      • CM Sunday, 7 August 2016, 9:35 pm

        A further reflection on your point about Froome and his possible shortcoming in being unable to ride with a greater variety of power intensity.
        I was watching the Olympic boxing where one of the fighters was a professional who had fought for a WBO title a year or so ago. Because of rule changes he could now fight in the Olympics. The point was that as a professional he was a harder-hitting, 12-round fighter. He was therefore at a great disadvantage because he was on a different endurance pace –he was just about getting going and warmed up when the three-round Olympic fight was finishing. (Also as a professional he had to train to make the weight only once every few months, not the 5 times in a fortnight required in the Olympics.) He lost his bout because he could not up his pace readily enough in a short fight.
        Perhaps it is analagous that Froome as a TdF champion over 3 week racing seems of an inadequately different pace and intensity in a one-off day race?

        • gabriele Monday, 8 August 2016, 3:03 pm

          Partly agreed, but I think it’s more about Froome being able to deliver top performances when it can be known previously what kind of power output is needed, or when the race can be controlled in order to force that kind of situation.

          Whereas, what’s typical of many one-day races (not all of them) is that you don’t know from start where and when you’ll be requested to perform, nor what kind of effort will be needed.
          Will you need to go all out for half an hour because you’re riding away solo? Or will it be about sharing 2′ turns with a couple of other athletes in a break? How much will you need to save? Will you need to go full gas one hour before the finish, then recover, then produce, dunno, three separate efforts of a different level?
          If you think back to many great Classics and imagine the type of efforts involved, you’ll see that different editions required very different patterns to be won. The random factors due to the complex interactions within the race create a broad range of situations and possibilities.
          When it’s not like that, we tend to see that as a *bad* edition of a Classic…

          On the contrary, 90% of winning performances by Froome shared a very similar power pattern among them. Note that the same was true for Contador… perhaps that percentage changed in recent years, but the basic situation was quite similar.

    • Chrisman Sunday, 7 August 2016, 9:10 pm

      Harsh. For a rider of Froome’s profile 12th is pretty amazing, considering he’s just won the TDF. High-end trolling.

      • dave Sunday, 7 August 2016, 10:23 pm

        the bore of being successful – get ridiculous nit-pickering – we should be thankful that bodyshapes/attributes make cycling so varied that we can have such an amazing variety of winners on different parcours.

        such a snorefest reading the above, give it a rest on Froome – why an earth people have to have a go at every opportunity is so depressing – reminds you of mindless Rooney bashing – so what he’s no an all-rounder? – yes it’s strange he didn’t follow Rodriguez’s move yesterday, whether it was tactics, or he didn’t have the legs who knows? He’s just won the TDF, might be a little tired… give him break…

        pretty amazing race yesterday, so many things to focus on other than Froome.

        reading Morten Reippuert’s slightly ill-informed comments yesterday/today – wowzers – let alone Froome-bashing – Sagan and Alaphillipe comparison as climbers?! Alaphillipe is in a completely different league on hills!

        +1 on the above with Gabriele and Vedrafjord pointing out PR was good with large teams + radios above – there’s never a quick fix to these things, smaller teams/radios isn’t a silver bullet. To be honest it was a bit ridiculous watched Cummings yesterday and Pooley today drilling it when their leaders were off the back!

        D

        • dave Sunday, 7 August 2016, 10:25 pm

          (GVA really impressive yesterday!)

        • Morten Reippuert Monday, 8 August 2016, 1:06 am

          Tour of california 2015…. TDF stage to Mende 2015, the last Alpine stages of TDF 2015, Amstel 2012, several strade Bianchis. I wont exactly say on a total different level – all 3 (incl GWA, you can add Kwiatkowsky too) are pretty decent roleurs, puchers and does well in +200km one day race events – neither are climbers.

      • gabriele Monday, 8 August 2016, 2:46 am

        It’s not like we had the typical one-day race course… It’s amazing he couldn’t do better, given his power and power/weight ratio. But, hey, luckily cycling is a lot more than that and the TdF.
        And, as I said, most observers were supposing that in the TdF he was keeping energies in the tank, unlike many rivals.

      • Anonymous Monday, 8 August 2016, 12:23 pm

        Chrisman: ‘High-end trolling’ – yes, you are.

    • RQS Monday, 8 August 2016, 10:17 am

      So you apologise for Poels and Bardet, but hang Froome by his neck despite his recent efforts. You prove that Froome is as closely marked on the forums as he was during that race. Haters will be haters as they say.

      I’m no avid Froome fan but his performance in the TdF showed that he is a fierce competitor and has the instincts of a champion.

      As I have intimated above, Froome was heavily marked in Saturday’s race, you only had to watch that moment he swung off second wheel before the climb to see that. Fully 20-30 riders immediately moved to his side of the road. So under those circumstances I have a feeling that he was holding back because he wasn’t going to lead his fellow competitors to the medals.

      I think people are looking at this a little narrowly as I am fairly certain the GB plan was aimed at maximising the available threats of both Thomas and Froome (if not Cummings and Yates).

      Perhaps where Froome fell down was the timing of his attack on the final climb, but this as much to with topography as it was about the lead the other riders had. No point attacking until you’re on the climb, but that left him with too much to do.

      My biggest disappointment was that Cummings was used up in the chase. I didn’t understand why team GB riders were apparently doing the lions share of closing down the break (admittedly I only tuned in for the second half of the race). For my mind Cummings was the better rider for getting into any break with Yates, Thomas and Froome following and getting into chasing groups.

      Anyway, I digress, plenty of TdF winners have never won the Olympic Road Race so criticising Froome on the basis of a race he was never favourite to win is all about hate, not about an objective review.

      • Beth Monday, 8 August 2016, 1:19 pm

        Froome was very lucky not to be DQ for the shamelessly long excursion behind the team car earlier in the race. And sitting on his exhausted teammate’s wheel on the flat run to the line and then outsprinting him for the very minor placings was perhaps not his finest hour.

        Froome does get some unwarranted criticism but he also seems to get away with a lot of cynical behaviour IMO.

        Anyway, thought it was a great race, albeit marred by some horrible crashes.

        • RQS Monday, 8 August 2016, 2:53 pm

          So it’s alright for Dan Martin to out sprint Yates, but not the other way around?! Another double standard applied. Froome was contesting Martin, not Yates, and Yates was clearly spent and rolled in over the line.

          As to the other activity, I have no idea if this is accepted practise at the Olympic Games compared to normal races. I won’t bother to defend him, though it’s not like he held onto the car and other riders received a sticky bottle so I suspect you’d need to DSQ anybody that went back to pick up a bottle or had a mechanical.

          Given that he didn’t contend the medals in a meaningful way I cannot believe the focus his performance is receiving. The ITT is clearly his main focus if he has carried his form from the TdF.

      • gabriele Monday, 8 August 2016, 2:50 pm

        Wasn’t Nibali marked? He was the bookie’s fav in several countries.
        How was it that Purito went leaving most peloton behind and Froome wasn’t there with him?
        No interest in analysing Froome’s race segment by segment, on my part. It just made evident, as a whole, what the rider’s limit are. And it also explains why it’s so wrong to extrapolate the possibile results of such a *peculiar* rider in race he didn’t win.
        I heard live reports by fellow teammate about Poels and Bardet being having a bad day, while I didn’t happen to know anything like that about Froome. Besides, I couldn’t see Poels or Bardet attacking hard the field. Quite the contrary, I’d say.
        Curious how supposed haters have factual arguments, here, while the answers usually tend to misread both the race and other readers’ commentaries.

        • RQS Monday, 8 August 2016, 3:12 pm

          Did see the moment Froome swung off the front and 20-30 riders followed him? No, you were getting your knowledge from a friend, so I can’t take what you say seriously as ‘factual’.

          Nibali used his descending skills to evade the peloton and all credit to him for that.

          As to why Froome didn’t attack with Purito I cannot say except that if everyone is looking at Froome, no one is looking at Purito. I know which of those two I would be trying to follow at that point.

          The point is not that he is being judged for his failure in this race which is clearly not a reflection of rider ability as plenty of other great riders did not medal also – I’m holding up the hypocrisy of the criticism being levelled. Froome is clearly not a one day rider and has held himself out as such – I can’t think of a single Spring classic that he has ridden, and so I have to ask why it is that people have singled him out.

          My point about Bardet and Poels, and indeed Valverde is that these are all great riders who could be expected to perform better, but you choose to say ‘they had a bad day’ rather than say ‘they are one dimensional riders’. It’s a double standard which does speak of people who don’t like Froome, looking to pick wholes in him and his performances.

          I think Froome is a great climber and TTer, but he’s no puncheur, he’s OK at descending and not a sprinter. Tactically team GB messed up I think (the Italians were spot on) though the same could be said of a number of nations, and perhaps that was Froome’s fault (certainly race radio plays a part in whether Froome knows how G is doing).

          If people were holding up other riders to the spotlight in the same way, but I guess that’s the weight of expectation that is put on a three times winner of the TdF.

          • gabriele Monday, 8 August 2016, 3:53 pm

            Wait, wait… in a one-day race everyone is looking for Froome and not for Purito? Fine, I guess this debate hasn’t got much sense in it.
            You should credit at least a bit of intelligence to experienced pro riders who are racing side by side with their colleagues and often can guess who’s felling fine and who isn’t. Without speaking of Valverde sacrificing himself publicly a few moments before.
            That’s race reading.
            Also note that, at the end of the day, Froome could go alone, despite being *sooo marked*, he just did it in the wrong moment. And with the wrong intensity, given that he couldn’t get to the chasing group ahead and given that Rui Costa, who isn’t having a huge season, later passed him with ease.

            Moreover, how the heck could anyone ever say that Valverde or Poels (or even Bardet) are one dimensional riders? o__O

            What’s surprising is that an in-form top GC rider who apparently didn’t exert himself as much as most of the other riders in the TdF (as it sometimes happens with a GT winner) is underperforming, without having a specific bad day (as it was *reported* about some rivals – until now not in Froome’s case), in a race which proved itself adequate for GT riders and in which several riders who were pushing hard in the Tour could get a fine result.

            That needs sort of an explanation: a bad day? (they didn’t say that until now). Lack of specific skills? But Majka, Fuglsang, Aru, Meintjes, Kangert, Zeits aren’t known as great one-day racers, either.
            In the top 10 we’ve got two Classics rider (I’m including Alaphilippe, even if he might improve in GCs, perhaps), two hybrids (Purito and Rui Costa, even if the latter is for sure more of a GC man) and *SIX* riders with no specific one-day race talent.

            The point is that Froome is underperforming – against *legitimate* expectations – away from a very reduced number of races.
            Which doesn’t happen with *lots* of other cyclists, and which for sure wouldn’t happen to any cyclist with Froome’s power/weight figures.

            That’s why he’s under the spotlight. He’s more or less comparable to the *very disappointing* 2014 Nibali, but Nibali proved it to be an isolated situation during the rest of his career. And Nibali was crucified (in Italy at least) because of that approach. If you can name a number of other examples I’d be happy to see if they match Froome’s situation.

          • RQS Monday, 8 August 2016, 9:40 pm

            Well done. A fait accompli. You are a special sort of stupid.

            Why did Froome get 0 cogs by INRNG, and Nibali get three? Because the course suits one and not the other.

            I’m not arguing that Froome is a great rider, just that criticism on this course is stupid because he’s not that sort of rider. If you think that makes him suck so be it, but you are obviously haters because you’ve not picked up on all the other riders that INRNG (reasonably expected) to contend, including Valverde.

            You’re a special sort of stupid if you can’t see that the attention on Froome was also used tactically. With two GB riders up the road it would seem bonkers to try to bridge the gap at the wrong time and bring other contenders up.

            He attacked on the last hill. It was all that he could do and you all criticise him because GVA won and he didn’t despite an all-star cast of riders who were more favoured than him. Special kind of stupid. See the bigger picture.

          • Anonymous Tuesday, 9 August 2016, 11:55 am

            RQS, you seem to be failing to realise that from reading the comments here, only one person is coming across as a ‘Special kind of stupid’, as you put it.
            I don’t agree with your points, on the whole, but I’m also managing to ‘see the bigger picture’ that this is just a discussion on cycling (and therefore not subjecting you to a tirade of abuse) – or at least, it is for people other than you.

          • gabriele Monday, 8 August 2016, 3:54 pm

            PS Enough for me about the subject. If you want to answer, I’ll gladly read, but I won’t be adding anything more to the debate.

          • Anonymous Monday, 8 August 2016, 9:10 pm

            The lack of knowledge combined with the wild accusations makes me wonder if it’s July again.
            Dare to criticise a British rider and it all comes out.

        • Dodge2000 Thursday, 11 August 2016, 9:24 am

          Didn’t Froome beat Nibali?

          Cycling includes descending and bike handling, where Nibali came up short.

          I’m half joking, but a single race, with lots of ‘non-standard’ situations – small teams, national squads etc. You also don’t know the tactics. Judging a whole rider’s ability on one race might be stretching it for fairness. If we are to do that then we are back to Nibali being a poor descending crash magnet and GVA the best ‘climber’ of the world tour.

          Run that race again today and I’m sure it would be a different result. Probably Froome wouldn’t win either, but let’s take it for what it is, an interesting race, with cobbles and treacherous descents and a mix of riders fighting for the win that fit in different ‘types’ of rider profile. I’ll take your multiple GT winners and raise you a classics superstar.

  • Augie March Sunday, 7 August 2016, 6:10 pm

    After this and his OHN win, can we now admit GVA to the top tier of one day riders? After years of being the almost man, the one day equivalent of Purito (going to miss him livening up the mountains) if you will, these and his TDF stage wins shows he’s one of the premier riders to beat.

    • gabriele Sunday, 7 August 2016, 6:38 pm

      Quality-wise, he was already there.

      Results-wise, the TdF stage and the OHN are fine but pretty much irrelevant in the big picture; this race is a very nice element to build up a palmarés matching his skills, but he’ll need more big wins. Which I think he’ll be able to get quite soon – I hope he’ll be going for a Lombardia after yesterday’s showing.

    • Richard S Sunday, 7 August 2016, 6:44 pm

      He’s definitely getting there. I’d put him
      up there with Sagan and Valverde as a rider who seems to be good all year and very consistent. He needs a monument though, on this evidence he could theoretically win any of them.

      • MultiplexRant Sunday, 7 August 2016, 9:44 pm

        Agreed. He is a first-rate rider and extraordinary in his consistent high finishing – but it’s the big wins that count and he doesn’t have enough. A gold goes a long way, but a worlds plus a monument or two would cement his place and confirm his talent.

  • Othersteve Sunday, 7 August 2016, 6:48 pm

    Froome did appear to be a little off balance in the non traditional peloton.

  • Daniele Sunday, 7 August 2016, 7:22 pm

    Hi Folks!

    I’m just writing to ask you all: should we learn anything from such an exciting and electrifying race?

    I don’t know if it was because of NO radio…usually in Italy we are saying that riders are making the race and not the road or man in the cars but I think having these amazing and challenging circuit was a great thing for cycling and for the race itself….

  • Langster Espresso Sunday, 7 August 2016, 7:42 pm

    Not just smaller team size, but a smaller field. You can’t reproduce the latter in World Tour races but reducing team sizes to 6 or 7 does seem worth a try (not 5 – the teams would just form tactics alliances all the time).

  • Chrisman Sunday, 7 August 2016, 9:05 pm

    I’d even say this was one of the most exciting races since Beijng 2008. Something about the Olympics…of course it helps that the parcours was an absolute beautiful monster, but it’s how riders go for it. Where else would you see Froome and Rui Costa in a twosome dilligently chasing a lost cause? People who had no good reason to rode as if their life depended on the result. Almost just the challenge of it was enough.

    And what a winner. If you could choose one guy, always the protagonist, always value, always exciting yet never gets the reward…it’s Van Avemart. And it’s not like he’s not super-talented. To get pipped by Sagan etc is no disgrace (where was he btw) and so often he’s made races great to watch without reward. But today he could not be denied. If it wasn’t to be Old Welsh to win then Van Avemart is a very worthy winner.

    And on team GB…I mean what an effort. Tactically ‘bate’ as usual, burning good men too early, but G picked Avemart’s wheel which was a great move and Froome and Yates gave it full-soul. If G doesn’t crash he would probably have got Silver. At least. Can’t ask for more in terms of balls-out effort. And man did this race have everythng. Normally you get either a crash or an awesome descent from Nibali – here we got both. G even threw himself into a ditch for old time’s sake. Rodriguez heroic failure again. Even Valverde had the decency to get dropped early. And finally Van Avemanrt nails a big one. This race was just a ‘Greatest Hits’ of cycling. Chapeau.

    • gabriele Monday, 8 August 2016, 4:09 pm

      It was a huge race, but this year’s Paris-Roubaix matches it and was indeed better than the Bejing Olympics race.
      We just had a great Flandres, too. Last year’s Gent was great (and the Lombardia, too), as the 2013 Worlds; 2012 had great Sanremo, Liège and Roubaix; impressive Liège in 2011, too. And I could go on. All of them were better than Bejing, IMHO obviously, even if agree that they struggle to match Saturday’s race – really impressive, probably among the top four or five one-day races in a ten year time (to say something).

  • Chris Sunday, 7 August 2016, 11:19 pm

    Let’s not forget that while there are no radios and smaller teams there is also the change in teammates to think about. These are teams that only race together once or twice a year. There still may be some trade team dynamics at play as well.

    Maybe world tour teams should just be drawn from a hat each race. That should spice it up.

    • Andrew Monday, 8 August 2016, 12:23 am

      Like it! Team captains choose teams, like gym class.

      • Bemused Monday, 8 August 2016, 9:13 am

        “Team captains choose teams, like gym class.”

        This just put a smile on my face on a Monday morning – thank you!

  • Esteban Monday, 8 August 2016, 5:01 am

    Would like asking inner R. Why there were so manny DNF?
    I was there in vista chinesa And the parcours seems not too hard. In fact I make it after the race. Only the climbing circuit of course

    • Nick Monday, 8 August 2016, 12:52 pm

      Often happens in races, like the WCs, with a circuit the riders have to do several times. If you’re off the back before the final circuit, with no way of contributing to the final result, you might as well get off then rather than doing an extra lap.

    • CA Monday, 8 August 2016, 4:15 pm

      Nick’s right – and at this point in the season, many riders are pretty burnt out, so suffering to complete a really hilly and hot 235km in 7-8hours might hurt the rest of their season… so it’s better off to do your bit for the team and then pull off.

  • Pax Monday, 8 August 2016, 5:44 am

    Inrng – excellent write up for a most excellent race!

  • MattF Monday, 8 August 2016, 6:11 am

    A medal for the course designer too. It had everything.

    • RQS Monday, 8 August 2016, 10:22 am

      Near fatalities too….Mr Boardman would likely request a blood and urine sample based on that medal. Given the body count I think he is right – a bit more rider protection would not have gone amiss.

      • Ferdi Monday, 8 August 2016, 11:25 am

        Of course. Mollema goes down on the Tour de France: bad course design, insufficient rider protection. Kruijswijk goes down on the Giro: bad course design, insufficient rider protection. Van Vleuten goes down in Rio: bad course design, insufficient rider protection.

        • Anonymous Monday, 8 August 2016, 11:32 am

          I was a bit disappointed with Chris Boardman’s comments claiming it was dangerous and treacherous, outlining his anger at the course designers for putting together such a course. I know there were crashes and van Vleuten’s crash was awful in the women’s race but it was more because riders were pushing the envelope and taking risks on a very technical descent. It looked like van Vleuten over cooked the corner coming in with too much speed and locking out her back wheel causing her to come off the bike and land horribly – thankfully she is ok after I feared the worse watching it live.

          Riders can control the risks they take and it is a gamble how fast they want to take corners on a descent.

          I thoroughly enjoyed both races, GVA was a worthy winner in the race. Really felt for Abbott in women’s race to not only miss out on winning final few hundred metres but to also miss out a medal must have been heart-breaking for her.

          • MattF Monday, 8 August 2016, 11:55 am

            Well said. Ferdi too. RQS – what additional protection would you have the course designers include? If it wasn’t for the netting where Porte crashed, for instance, he would have disappeared over the edge. In the Alps, Pyrenees or Dolomites, that’s exactly what would have happened. The riders simply need to treat the parcours with respect.

          • RQS Monday, 8 August 2016, 3:20 pm

            Not so. The roads are usually a lot wider on the bends. But the main criticism has been of the big drainage ditches. If they have perhaps put foam padding in these at corners then you may have saved Van Vluetan from hospital.

            The off camber corners and ditches are treacherous. I would ride that safely, but I’m not in contention for a once in a life-time acheivement. After all, how many cyclists boast an Olympic medal from the road event? And how many have medalled more than once in the road event. It’s an elusive and exclusive prize which the risks are ‘worth taking’. I’ve not seen a road race with so many individual crashes on decents ever that I can remember. Would like to know if anyone else can think of four separate incidents in a road race like this…. We are also talking pros, so they’re not ‘new’ to descending – so is the casualty toll a price you think is fair?

          • CA Monday, 8 August 2016, 10:06 pm

            RQS – You said you can’t remember so many individual crashes on descents:

            Well, you rarely see one-day races with these many descents. But you do see plenty of one-day races with multiple crashes. Paris-Roubaix has many crashes each year. The other spring classics are full of crashes. Week 1 of the TdF has many horrific crashes (individual stages often have multiple massive pile-ups). The desert tours have crashes. Etc.

            The point is, cycling is tough, and dangerous. Nobody mentioned this extra risk before the race, even though the riders saw the course, the teams saw the course, the UCI too. You can’t purely blame the organisers because nobody thought about this.

          • RQS Monday, 8 August 2016, 11:13 pm

            My point was that in one day races there are accidents, but they normally come from a lack of attention and close riding. Not because the course is dangerous. You have to look at like for like. Rarely do you get descents which cause as many crashes as this with top pros at the top of their game.
            One, maybe two, crashes. Not five (although we only know about Porte, Nibali, Henao, Thomas and Alaphillipe – we have no idea if others came down).
            The problem is that the cost for getting it wrong was so much higher than most other course descents. We have double collar bone, pelvis, scapula and vertebrae.
            I just want one of you who think that is an allowable casualty rate to come up with another one day race which has provided that many individual accidents on the parcours. I’m not talking peloton accidents, I’m talking individual errors by top professionals. How many of them need to break for the course to be dangerous? I realise that the riders all take risks and they accept that risk for the main part, but what if Van Vueltain broke her neck, Porte falls off the mountain or Henao’s career ends? Obviously anyone can go down that descent, but how many can compete and race down it? You have to say, with so much on the line accidents were bound to happen and they did. I think Boardman, who is a pro and raced, who viewed it first hand, nailed it. You could not afford to make a mistake as otherwise you’d get a serious injury and so it proved. I don’t really have to go any further than that – if they protected riders by putting foam or something in the drains on the bends it might have been better.

          • Vitus Tuesday, 9 August 2016, 2:31 am

            Lot more crashes happned in La Course this year. Guess I missed all the experts telling us how unsafe the Champs is, the cobbles, the gutter that everyone wants to ride, the high curbs, the dark tunnel and the loud Norwegians. Safety nightmare.

          • RQS Tuesday, 9 August 2016, 5:58 am

            Are you trolling? Or are you stupid? I’m asking about races where individual errors happened on an open course, not group crashes.

          • Anonymous Tuesday, 9 August 2016, 11:44 am

            How many more people who disagree with you do you intend to insult?

          • Anonymous Tuesday, 9 August 2016, 11:45 am

            That was for RQS.

          • RQS Tuesday, 9 August 2016, 2:07 pm

            Anyone who does not contend with an argument directly.

            Of course people have the right to view a course as dangerous or not dangerous. But if you’re going to argue the point then don’t move the goal posts or misquote someone, or even ignore the arguments already made. That is stupid and insulting, because you talk over the top of reasoning and debate.

            If you feel the casualty toll from the Olympic Road Race was what you expect to see then fair enough. I understand, but cycling is not a blood sport. My point is that cyclists should not be expected to compete in a situation where a mistake should really jeopardise they life and health and a course maker should take that into account.

            Racing and group cycling is inherently dangerous and accidents are a frequent part of the sport. But most accidents are caused by a combination of the close proximity riding, road furniture and nerves in the peloton. For the most part they do not involve road handling mistakes, just force and circumstances (bad luck). On Saturday we saw at least five, with four season halting crashes, and one on Sunday from some of the best bike handlers in the world. So given the high predominance it does seem safe to say that the course, compared to most had a high casualty rate, so who is to blame. Riders or course makers? And, just as importantly is it acceptable?

            Telling me ‘La Course’ had a lot of accidents adds nothing to the conversation because these were touched wheels, nervous riders, group riding scenarios. We know there is nothing wrong with the course because it’s on every year in a race called the Tour de France, and the number of serious accidents was pretty small (without knowing I would say most competitiors got road rash) – so yes, I think it’s pretty stupid to make that point, especially when my point specifically highlights the difference between a peloton crash and individual mistakes one the course Saturday and Sunday. But you’re right, the bigger picture is that if you want to ignore what someone has said then there’s limited point in entering into a discussion with them, so no point bothering.

          • Anonymous Tuesday, 9 August 2016, 5:21 pm

            Seems more like your ‘go to’ manner of responding to anyone who disagrees with you (I wasn’t one of them). There is more evidence of this above [simply find the word ‘stupid’].

          • CA Tuesday, 9 August 2016, 5:58 pm

            RQS – I’m 99% sure that the climbing specialists who raced this course agree that the risk was worth it. Without the climbs (and the corresponding descent) they wouldn’t have had a shot to win.

            I agree, some foam would’ve helped, but it definitely wouldn’t have reduced the risk to anything resembling an acceptable level for most people.

            Cyclists are crazy, they want to win and will risk a lot to do so.

            Stop shouting, Inrng will zap your comments.

          • Vitus Tuesday, 9 August 2016, 11:54 pm

            Okay, think I’ll set you and your soliloquy on ignore from now on.

          • Ferdi Thursday, 11 August 2016, 9:50 am

            Come on, this is pro cycling. In this context, the Olympics are just another race. It’s not the Worlds, not a Monument, not a GT, or a historic one-week race.

          • Dodge2000 Thursday, 11 August 2016, 9:39 am

            There are dangerous courses with road surfaces so slick after rain it’s like ice and unmarked furniture at sprint time. But most hilly courses will have ‘dangerous’ descents – depending on how fast you want to race it. It’s clear that riders will push every course to the limit and aome will go over it. All riders has a had a chance to recce the course so knew how tricky the descent was. Still very sad to see the injuries and I wouldn’t have wanted to race that descent, but it’s not my job to put it all on the line like that

          • CA Monday, 8 August 2016, 4:19 pm

            I agree with the commenters here, Boardman’s comments were pretty surprising. There’s very little you can do to make a course “safe”. It’s up to the riders to take more or less risks. Every race that has really hard climbs will have equally risky descents where riders can fall if they go too fast.

            Unless you make it mandatory to wear hockey equipment, when the riders race down pavement at 80-100kph, falling is going to hurt.

  • Anon Monday, 8 August 2016, 7:22 am

    If there was ever an argument for no race radios and smaller teams this race was it….

    • UHJ Monday, 8 August 2016, 8:22 am

      As others including Mr. INRNG have already pointed out smaller teams and no radios doesn’t necessarily make for this exciting type of racing but it could go a long way.
      I don’t think it is the solution for GTs but for one-day races, smaller teams definately would be a plus. The radio could be too but I don’t think it means a lot for race tactics. From a commissaire’s pov, though, I would opt for no radios as it makes the race more managable when I and my colleagues are in on all communication.
      But I think the UCI should take note of this for the world championships; smaller teams, no radios and team composition based on nationality do make for a greater spectable. -All to many WCs in recent years have been boring, really boring, races. This recipe might liven up a dying race form.

      • J Evans Monday, 8 August 2016, 9:08 pm

        Teams having more riders has a far greater impact on grand tours than on one day races – as we have seen recently.

    • Tovarishch Monday, 8 August 2016, 8:25 am

      Post hoc ergo propter hoc, as President Bartlet would have said.

  • UHJ Monday, 8 August 2016, 8:51 am

    I didn’t claim causuality.
    But that will not keep me from believing that my argument carries some weight, especially for the WC which is a race like the ORR only with more riders on some teams.

    • Tovarishch Monday, 8 August 2016, 9:02 am

      The response was to Anon.

      • UHJ Monday, 8 August 2016, 9:25 am

        My bad, I mistook your response, Tovarishch. Sorry about that.

  • Gargatouf Monday, 8 August 2016, 11:10 am

    Am I the only one who things that the lack of time gaps is actually a good thing? During the last lap of the men’s race and towards the end of the women’s race (I unfortunately missed the end of the race as my 3 months old decided to wake up at that point), the lack of time gap seem to make things a bit more exciting, you didn’t really know that gaps, so you didn’t know if the front men (and women) were going to go all the way, you didn’t really know if the chasers would catch up.
    I think the same happened at the Richmond WC, in the men’s race, when the leaders got to the last hill. There was no time gap and for a few minutes, you thought they would be able to make it but they were finally caught by the peloton. I think it just makes for more exciting riding rather than seeing the time gap slowly (or quickly) reduce and you know that the leaders will be caught.

  • Paul Monday, 8 August 2016, 11:30 am

    Great race to watch – Woeful coverage and commentary from the BBC (even taking into consideration the difficulties) – how is it with all that tech we get no information?

    The Italian job was carried out to perfection with a harsh outcome _ Did Nibbles bring the other riders down?

    Heartbreak for fans favourite G.

    A great Formula to have 15K of flat after a brutal climb and descent meant that the finish was exciting (heartbreaking) for both the the Mens and Ladies RR.

    Thanks for a great Write up and i look forward to scrolling through the many comments on this community

    • Anonymous Monday, 8 August 2016, 11:54 am

      So Paul in your opinion should have been commentating?

      • Paul Monday, 8 August 2016, 1:57 pm

        David Harmon 😉 But thats my standard response to that question….. you make a good point though

    • Salsiccia Monday, 8 August 2016, 12:01 pm

      Don’t think it’s fair to blame the BBC, they just get everything from the official broadcast.

      • Nick Monday, 8 August 2016, 1:08 pm

        Yep, the IOC awarded the broadcasting contract to OBS (wholly owned by the IOC), which supplies the various international broadcasters. Which means that the various sports are covered by an organisation that shows them once every 4 years, instead of doing so on a regular basis. And that shows in the standard of coverage.

        I’m sure that the members of the IOC have several million good reasons for doing it that way. Or perhaps they just really like slow-motion shots of bidons falling out of bottle cages.

        • Paul Monday, 8 August 2016, 2:01 pm

          And chains wobbling about, perhaps they should have of cut away to the beach volleyball?

        • Dave Monday, 8 August 2016, 10:59 pm

          The actual camera crews on the motos would be the same ones who subcontract for all the other cycling host broadcasters around the world.

          I’d actually like to see more super slo-mo shots during Paris-Roubaix, Flanders etc. They help you appreciate the torture that the cobbles put on the machinery, and also provide good filler material during a flat transitional segment or when the signal from the motos is patchy.

          As much as the overall quality was a bit short of some of the better regular cycling broadcasts races, there are also a few things where the regular cycling broadcasts are stale and could pick up a few things from the OBS cycling broadcast or even from other sports.

      • Paul Monday, 8 August 2016, 2:00 pm

        I can blame them for the constant inane comments and self congratulation on pointing out the bleeding obvious!

        As anonymous points out above i have only one answer to who should commentate and i think i am probably in a minority on that

        • Anonymous Monday, 8 August 2016, 2:27 pm

          is he cured yet?

          • J Evans Monday, 8 August 2016, 9:05 pm

            Crass in the extreme.

  • Marcus Monday, 8 August 2016, 2:09 pm

    One of my top races of the year, too. Wouldn’t it be great if countries like Brazil with their stunning nature and sportive population featured more prominently in the World Tour calendar, and the boring races in desert countries with no public empathy received less attention? (Just dreaming, given Petro dollars and such).

    Unfortunately over here the German ARD commentary was so sub-par, it was really a shambles — Florian Naß, the commentator, for 6 hours mainly whined about the course layout being unfair (especially for smaller nations and lesser abled riders) and too dangerous for the riders (highlighted by the crashes); not sure if he ever watched bike racing before or sat in the saddle himself. His main focus is handball and it is completely beyond me why ARD didn’t sign-up one of the German top cyclists of the past at least to co-comment.

    Many thanks (as always) for the insightful analysis in the blog post and commentary, dear co-readers.

    • Morten Reippuert Monday, 8 August 2016, 6:48 pm

      We where giftet by Dan Frost, who really knows cycling in and out + is a great and well articulated guy.

    • Vitus Monday, 8 August 2016, 10:08 pm

      Naß or Peter Leissl on ZDF are the worst you can do to cycling. Boring and clueless, if they even could give this Nullen a rider/ex-rider as co-commentator. Maybe they could learn something. I hope they find someone better for track. But I fear they wont.
      It was so bad that I switched of the sound and then searched for a stream in any other language than German. Never missed Karsten Migels and Jean-Claude Leclerq so badly.

  • Jean Monday, 8 August 2016, 10:51 pm

    This race confirmed what i saw in the Tour. Froome can only perform if he is guided by a scientific prepared team, just prepared for three weeks. And if he is not attacked in climb one, two or three of the stage. His conservative and cowardly opponents in a grand Tour had no guts to put him into difficulty. However, during this fantastic olympic race, classic and hybrid riders did a marvellous job in attacking him 70 k from the finish. Later joined bij punchers and climbers. And Froome ? Not responding when he had to respond. Just one shot, far to late, and then agonising.
    He should have been disqualified earlier in the race, when brought back during 5 k stayering after his directors car, at a speed of 70k/h . Hallo members of the jury ? Still intimidated by Sky and British federation ?

    • Anonymous Monday, 8 August 2016, 11:27 pm

      Woah, I didn’t realise the whole race revolved around Froome !!!
      It was a great race and some riders played a part in this (Purito, GVA, Nibali…) and others didn’t (Poels, Froome, Bardet…). So I would suggest not having everything revolve around one rider and enjoy the fact that in different races, different people will do well .

  • Luigi Crema Tuesday, 9 August 2016, 5:24 am

    Following the “what to do after this Tour de France to have back a fun sport” I’ve two Suggestions.

    1. Nobody can race the TDF without 5566 whatever3445 points in some races. We want a world tour similar to ATP? No points, no classification? You want Kangert Poels Froome and Quintana? They need at least to make points before through Aarenberg and the Cauberg, otherwise out.

    2. Force Nibali to participate for winning. Ok, I’m Italian and this comment seems biased. Fine. Let me put the disclaimer: What Hayman did was incredible and Roubaix this year was a cruel thriller with Martin in the role of the killer, Cancellara of the victim, Boonen of the tragic hero. BUT Italy and Nibali in Florence and Rio attacked everywhere. He reached a fun , he was third in san remo. Great lombardia. The stages at the Paganella, and on the Valparola, at the this year Giro were awesome.

    So, we need a rule to force Nibali (and Contador) to race hard 🙂

  • Look585 Tuesday, 9 August 2016, 8:39 am

    I followed the last hour of the race live, and it was a thrilling hour!

    Alaphilippe was showing incredible form and I think he would have been medaled had he been wiser to keep his eye (better yet, wheel) on GVA when he and Fuglsang went. I don’t know how much mechanical penalty he was suffering due to crash damage, but you could see he was strong when he was chasing rabidly after the duo. Of course, it was unlikely, if even possible, that he would catch the duo when he reacted so late. (Majka was cooked so would have been a non-factor in the sprint as he eventually showed.) It would have been a sprintout between GVA and Alaphilippe, in my opinion.