Big Australian Matthew Hayman showed why he is an integral part of top Dutch Pro Tour squad Rabobank by taking the Commonwealth Games road race title after four hours under a hot Melbourne sun.
Whilst the pick of the world’s cyclists were busy in Europe on Sunday riding Brabantse Pijl and the Criterium International, Hayman still had to over-come some handy riders to take his gold. In second place was South African 2006 Langkawi winner, David George; third was pre-race favourite and Hayman’s Aussie team mate Alan Davis [Liberty Seguros] – a man it now takes the likes of Tom Boonen [Quickstep] and Alessandro Petacchi [Milram] to defeat in a sprint.
After a stellar track Games the United Kingdom’s road squads could do no better than English man Steve Cummings’ [Landbou] fourth place.
Already a winner in the track scratch race the little Isle of Man rider with the big finish, Mark Cavendish was seventh. Northern Ireland [and Giant Asia] duo Dave McCann and Stephen Gallagher finished 12th and 13th respectively; Gallagher’s father Noel was 19th at the Edinburgh Commonwealth games in 1970. Surprisingly off the pace was South African Robert Hunter [Phonak] way down in 18th place; heck of a journey for nothing for the man with the big sprint.
British champion and a man who usually races hard, Russ Downing [DFL] was 32nd at 15.56, not one he’ll be chuffed with either.
Scotland’s best finisher was Duncan Urquhart in 26th place at 9.13 with Alex Coutts [DFL] 30th at 10.34; Evan Oliphant [Recycling] and James McCallum failed to finish.
I had arranged to talk to the guys after the race but couldn’t get an answer to my calls, I wasn’t surprised – who wants to answer dumb questions after disappointing rides like these?
Urquhart was first on the attack in the race, going on the first lap, a trade mark tactic of his which sometimes works in the UK – but not so often when you have a bunch behind containing Pro Tour riders. Whilst his attempt to put his mark upon the race was laudable, was it sensible to persist with a break for lap after lap under a hot sun with no Aussie in the group?
The Australian team deserved its success, riding as an unselfish and cohesive unit throughout to put two men on the podium despite the absence of top Pro Tour riders like Brad McGee [Francaise des Jeux], Robbie McEwen [Lotto] and ‘Stuey’ O’Grady [CSC].
The Commonwealth games means nothing in Europe, Hayman had to negotiate with his Dutch sponsors to be allowed a ride and no doubt he will be high-tailing it straight back to Europe for the Three Days of De Panne.
There was talk of McGee taking legal action against his F de J team to allow him to defend his pursuit title but manager Marc Madiot was unrelenting and McGee stayed in Europe during the Games. Similarly, England’s best riders Jeremy Hunt [Unibet] and Roger Hammond [Discovery] were riding in Belgium for sponsors to whom the Games are an aberration.
With the antipodean distractions over and done with, let’s get back to serious Euro-business – who’s gonna win De Ronde, eh?