With gaze finally shifting from the velodrome, today saw the men and women take to the Glaswegian roads in order to contest 2014’s Commonwealth Time Trial. The slightly rolling course was expected to favour those with a stronger background in road racing than the thoroughbred time trialists, as the riders were sent out into the surrounding countryside. Thankfully the morning’s rain had subsided somewhat as the women took to the road; by the time the men began later in the afternoon, the Scottish sun(!) had burnt most of it from the race-line.
Pooley Close To The Perfect Farewell:
There was great anticipation as the crowds waited for Emma Pooley to roll onto the course having recently announced her impending retirement from the sport. It did not take long to realise that Pooley and Kiwi Linda Villumsen were to be the main protagonists as it came to contesting the gold medal. Despite having led throughout the intermediate time checks, Emma Pooley could not maintain her blistering pace, succumbing to Villumsen’s perfectly timed late surge to take the Commonwealth title in 42:25.46. Australian Katrin Garfoot completed the podium in third as Scotland’s wonder child Katie Archibald missed out on a medial, despite her early pace, finishing fifth in the end. Elinor Barker of Wales and Joanna Rowsell of England finished 7th and 13th respectively.
Dowsett Rides To Gold:
The men’s race proved hard to predict before starting and even tougher as the main contenders reached the end of their efforts’. With Bradley Wiggins’ bizarre change of season goals before the Commonwealth Games, it was seen to open the podium up slightly to the chance of an unexpected medalist. This year’s Le Tour de France played a role in the conditioning of the riders heading into the day’s time trial, as those who had recently finished the three week campaign were a mixture of burnt out and hardened by the experience.
Luke Durbridge and Svein Tuft certainly appeared to be showing signs of fraying after staying the course with Orica-Greenedge the last few weeks, soon failing to match the pace of their bright starts. Jesse Sergent was the last to falter in pursuit of the medal placings, possessing greater freshness having not ridden the Tour, but fell away as Geraint Thomas, Rohan Dennis and Alex Dowsett pulled away from everybody.
Geraint Thomas appeared to be riding in the typical Team Sky style of a negative-split, riding smoothly throughout in search of a rapid finish to take a medal. As the graph from VeloUk displays below, Thomas began to gain time after the halfway point as planned, but ran out of steam in the final stretch – no doubt a stressful tour blunting his pace somewhat. Rohan Dennis had recorded the best competition times this season out of the entire field, yet he seemed to be touted below Durbridge as Australia’s threat, but Dennis dismissed this myth with a blistering increase of pace between 17km and 32km. However, this acceleration was not enough to counter a determined Alex Dowsett who dipped out of 1st, even momentarily into 3rd, before finishing the strongest out of all the riders. Managing not only to over-turn the 7 second deficit from Dennis, but also take the title by 10 seconds.
Dowsett told the BBC post-race “I got a silver in Delhi and with with the disappointment of missing out on the Tour de France, I’ve been angry the last month. When I’m angry I pull something out of the bag so it’s very special.”
Meanwhile, David Millar was writing a new chapter in his career as the medals were being passed amongst the top three throughout the time trial. Only the second time competing in a Scotland kit and well into his retirement swan-song, Millar taking a medal at his home games is what the fans craved. However, it took blind faith to really show any confidence in Millar finishing with a medal worthy time given recent time trial performances and it will be no shock to see him making a greater impression upon the road race instead. Even then though, he would have to be more competitive than his showing at the British National Road Race, a performance which subsequently saw him cut from Garmin’s tour rosta.
A noteworthy performance also came from James McLaughlin of Guernsey, who backed up his tenth in the National Time Trial with another tenth place in this Commonwealth race. Making him the first non-WorldTour rider home in both events, a great sign for the 23 year old.