Saturday 24 March 2018

Mark Cavendish rues anti-British alliance

Mark Cavendish
Mark Cavendish

Matt McGeehan

World champion Mark Cavendish claimed Great Britain have become victims of their own success after rival teams appeared content to see him lose the Olympic road race, rather than win it themselves.

Cavendish, a winner of 23 Tour de France stages, was among the favourites for the 250-kilometre event, which included nine ascents of Surrey's Box Hill.

But his adversaries conspired against the British team and the 27-year-old from the Isle of Man finished 29th, 40 seconds behind, as controversial Kazakh Alexandr Vinokourov triumphed on The Mall, with Colombia's Rigoberto Uran second and Norway's Alexander Kristoff third.

"It seems like most teams are happy not to win as long as we don't win," Cavendish told BBC1.

"It's the story of our lives in cycling. It shows what a strong nation we are. We've got to take the positives from that and take it as a compliment."

Cavendish had described Britain's five-man squad as the "dream team", featuring Tour winner Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, David Millar and Ian Stannard.

All four had ridden in support of Cavendish when he won the World Championships road race in Copenhagen last September, but this task was tougher, according to Millar and Wiggins.

And despite phenomenal support from his four British team-mates a late breakaway stayed clear and Vinokourov, who served a two-year ban until 2009 for blood doping, won the sprint for the line.

Millar said: "We rode the race we said we were going to race and there was a slim chance that we were going to pull it off.

"When every other team is racing with the sole tactic to thrash our race up, it's very hard to do it.

"We expected that, we can't complain. Everyone knew what we were going to try to do and it was their job to try to derail us, which they did."

Press Association

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