Freire expected a Vinokourov-style escape finish would take Olympic gold
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Freire expected a Vinokourov-style escape finish would take Olympic gold

by Kyle Moore at 10:23 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Olympics
injured sprinter praises efforts of the Spanish squad

Oscar FreireOscar Freire (Katusha) withdrew from the 2012 Tour de France after stage six with a broken rib, eventually ruling him out for a spot on the Spanish national team for the Olympic road race.

Instead, Freire gave his viewpoints after the race in commentary for El País, and he was not at all surprised at the outcome of the men’s event. Alexander Vinokourov took gold for Kazakhstan in the final road race of his career, with Rigoberto Uran (Colombia) taking silver and Alexander Kristoff (Norway) grabbing the bronze.

Inside ten kilometres to race, Vinokourov was the first to jump and Uran covered the move. With tired legs and minds trying to strategize in the select breakaway group behind, the duo took it to the line before Vinokourov surprised Uran with a move on the right side of the road.

Importantly, the group containing elite sprinters and race favourites Mark Cavendish (Great Britain), Matt Goss (Australia), and André Greipel (Germany) was too far behind as the kilometres ticked down. They would never connect with the powerful breakaway group to contest the finish, an outcome that Freire saw coming.

“Not to brag, but it happened as I thought it would,” Freire wrote in El País. “It is difficult for a team to govern the race with so many chiefs coming off of the Tour de France.

“For many, but not all, a medal is a treasure of gold. Just ask Rigoberto Uran – he came out stronger than Vinokourov but misjudged the sprint, perhaps letting slip a prize that he may never have dreamed of before leaving the starting line.

“No, an Olympic championship is not technically like a World Championship. In fact, it is rare that the [Olympic] medals are decided in a sprint. This was no exception to the rule. On a complex circuit, in order to make the escape, and also to attack from the peloton, you do it in the narrow stretches of road.”

Freire saluted the Spanish Olympic squad for its combative nature throughout the race, only finding fault with the way the Spaniards rode in the finale.

“The big escape looked good, and there were magnificent Spanish cyclists in it, with a superb [Jonathan] Castroviejo who thought out and prepared an intelligent race for Luis Leon Sanchez and Alejandro Valverde,” Freire continued. “But along the way, perhaps for lack of strategy, they couldn’t finish it off. In [the early parts of the race], the Spanish efforts were tremendous, spectacular, and raced well, but finished off poorly.”

Freire didn’t fault Cavendish or the British squad, but wondered about the lack of assistance that Great Britain received from Australia and Germany. Australia had Stuart O’Grady up the road and committed little to the chase, while Germany worked more reliably, albeit with less dedication than the British.

“It was expected that Britain took control of the race with an eye for Cavendish. And they did. But their dominance was not the same as Sky had in the Tour. Because this is not the Tour. In any case, it was shocking the lack of confidence the other squads had in their sprinters, namely Australia and Germany. The latter did not seem to rely heavily on Greipel because only at the end did they decide to throw all in to get rid of the escape that had endangered their only option.”

The three-time world champion concluded that narrow roads in the finale also played a part, and also may have done in his compatriots in their quest for a medal.


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