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Cavendish and team hit out at peloton

ESPN staff
July 28, 2012 « London Olympics 2012 LIVE! | Chartbeat test »
Mark Cavendish puts on a brave face for the press © Getty Images
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Mark Cavendish and his team-mates hit out at some of their rivals after the Manx rider was unable to win Great Britain's first medal of London 2012 in Saturday's road race.

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Cavendish, strongly tipped for gold in many quarters, was never in position to pull off one of his customary sprint finishes for victory - as a team that included Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, runner-up Chris Froome, David Millar and Ian Stannard struggled manfully to reel in a late break-away but were ultimately unable to cope.

With just four men to protect Cavendish, the British team really needed other members of the peloton to take on some of the load if they were to close the gap on the final break-away group - which included eventual winner Alexander Vinkorouv. Instead, only Germany ever offered to take on the responsibility - with Australia among many seemingly content to sit back and let the Brits fight a losing cause alone.

Disappointed afterwards, Cavendish - who eventually finished 28th - struggled to hide his anger at the conduct of some of his competitors - who had essentially doomed their own chances of a medal shoot-out with their "negative" tactics.

"It seems most teams are happy not to win as long as we don't win," he said. "I guess you have to take the positives from that - see it as a compliment - but there are 70 guys in our group [who missed out as well].

"Nobody wants to help us. The Australians rode negatively. I'd like to say that's how it goes, but it's disappointing."

Road captain David Millar, who Cavendish lobbied strongly to have on the team, echoed his team-mate's sentiments.

"Every other team was riding to slash our race. We just missed little bit of help," he noted. ""What we needed was a couple of guys to help us. The Germans came up but we needed some help."

He added: "We did everything we could, I don't think we can reproach ourselves. I think we should be proud, because there was no other team that could have done what we attempted to do.

"I don't know if we could have done anything differently."

Vinokourov proved a somewhat controversial winner, having previously served a two-year ban for blood doping - an offence for which he has never really appeared to show any remorse. While annoyed that the subject was raised in the aftermath of his triumph, he insisted that both he and the sport have cleaned up their act greatly in the last few years.

"I've turned the page and I showed that Vino is still there," Vinokourov said. "I don't think it's the right moment to talk about doping, but I've turned the page, I was suspended for two years.

"Cycling has been doing a lot to fight doping thanks to the Tour de France organisers and the UCI (International Cycling Union).

"We're on the right track."

Elsewhere, Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara is waiting to discover whether he will be fit enough to compete in Wednesday's time trial. Cancellara was leading the break-away with not long remaining in the road race before he crashed into barriers after taking a turn at high speed.

"Have no words left," Cancellara said on Twitter, after leaving the area nursing his right arm. "The tears are stronger than the pain. Now we are waiting in the policlinic in the athlete village for the X-ray. Let's pray."

That may enhance Bradley Wiggins' hopes of Olympic gold - Cancellara was considered his strongest challenger for victory in the time-trial, after the pair sparkled in the handful of similar stages at this year's Tour de France.

"I think he will," Miller said. "He's in such incredible form, I think we'll get our gold medal there.

"Brad on his own, against the world, I think he'll wrap it up."

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