Mark Cavendish never reacts well when he doesn’t win. His hatred of losing is part of what drives him to success, but after missing out on Olympic gold today he consoled himself with the efforts of his four team mates.

“The guys are sat there, in their skinsuits, they are spent. They have got nothing left in the tank,” he said when speaking to BBC Radio Five Live. “It’s incredible to see that to see what they gave for the cause.”

Cavendish was the only British rider to finish in the second group that finished just 40 seconds behind winner Alexandre Vinokourov. Ian Stannard sat up in the final metres losing just ten seconds, Bradley Wiggins rolled in one minute 17 seconds down while David Millar and Chris Froome were nine and twelve minutes back.

Each of them had ridden themselves in to the ground and reached their limit before the finish. “We rode the exact race we wanted to ride.” Cavendish said. “We wanted to control it and we wanted the group at a minute. We expected teams to come and chase at the end with us. We controlled it with four guys for 250 km and we couldn’t do more. We are human beings.

“There was a group of 22 who got away and we couldn’t pull them back. The four guys who ran all day couldn’t do it. The Germans came a bit too late and the other teams seemed to be more content that they wouldn’t win as long as we didn’t win. That’s kind of how it goes.”

When the winning move went on the final climb of Box Hill Great Britain found themselves isolated in the chase. Germany had their man Greipel back in the bunch with the British team, and Matt Goss was there for the Australians. Germany did some work, but Australia did none, seemingly happy that Stuart O’Grady (who’d been in the break all day) was in there.

“It seems like most teams are happy not to win as long as we don’t win,” Cavendish told BBC One. “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.”

”It’s bitterly disappointing. There’s 70 guys in our group at the finish, I don’t understand why there’s [only] three guys riding. It doesn’t make sense.”

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  • Stewart

    Valiant, but flawed! and they new it! When Cav won the worlds last year they new that 5 riders could not control the bunch. So why try ? Tactics, make us look like a one trick pony, tempo riding on the front. The Sky lads paid back Cav in Paris , so why not put Froome in the break with O’grady and sit back and watch the rest panic! It was crazy going into such a big event with only plan A, when everyone had already worked out how to beat it . Please have a plan B next time. Hope Wiggo recovers for TT gold. Its his year!!!!

  • kitkat

    Sorry guys ,but carrying on as though they were still in Le Tour and with 2 minutes odd to play with was never going to cut the mustard. Sitting at the front of the peloton might be practical with 9 blokes but not this fwer. I’m afraid that Cav is getting a bit precious- does he really

  • Ben

    Once I’d resigned myself to the fact Team GB weren’t in a position to win it, I was at least pleased that Cancellara would be in with a fantastic chance…until he hit that corner.

    I was absolutely gutted for him…and then to see Vinokourov get gold…well, that result capped off a pretty terrible day!

    Oh, and the rubbish coverage wasn’t the BBC’s fault.

  • Nick Anderson

    Now the IOC have the Gold Medal winner they deserve, an unrepentant drugs cheat. Now is the time to bring in either a lifetime or even a ten year ban on cheats.

  • Mike


    Only the Ausies are alowed to call us Poms. Get real, what do the Canadians know about cycling.
    The Brits rode there hearts out all day, I dont remember any Canadian jerseys up there.

  • robin gambrill

    Watching the road race here in Canada I could not understand why the poms sat on the front all day,did they really think they could just drop the rest,the bunch must have laughed all the way to the finish. In 60 years of cycling that was the worst display of tactics I have ever seen.

  • Mike

    Hi Richard. I think most of the dissapointment is down to the lack of racing in the peloton. What is the point of selecting a sprinter, then having the team ride round the whole 250k in the wheels? If you dont get your guy up to the front how can he even contest the race, let alone win it?

    Are the other sprinters saying they cant beat Cavendish so Its no good trying? The Olympics are only once every four years, I dont see the point of turning up and not doing your best to win it.

    It had nothing to do with the Ausies, they had a guy up the road, the problem was with the other sprinters teams not having the guts to take it on.

  • Richard Horner

    I find some of the pommie moaning unbelievable. How can you criticise our Aussie neighbours for not chasing when O’Grady was in the break?? Also, the British team had more riders in the race than most countries which should have been an advantage.

    The race was won by a deserving winner.

  • Cavologuardi

    An awesome display… if tactically naive… and all too painfully bleedin’ obvious. Plan A worked at the Worlds with a bigger team and an easier parcours… it was never going to work here… the Brits sat on the front lap after lap after lap on the Box loop with just token help from the Germans. You can’t blame the Aussies, or anyone else, for not wanting to tow Cav to the Mall. The Aussies were astute enough to get SOG in the break. Everybody surges on the dash to the finish… when the Brits are spent… thanks very much chaps, toodle pip. And Vino wins (spit). Uran to Astana next year, perhaps?

    I don’t know about Brad… but Ian Stannard deserves a knighthood after yesterday… a machine!

  • Steve

    A Herculian effort by Team GB but without others willing to contribute to fully chasing down a breakaway group of quality riders, it was doomed berfore the race left Box Hill.

    The ex-doper, Vinokourov winning is a further kick in the guts. What a swansong for him on his imminent retirement (?).

  • T Anderson

    Added to the wound of no GB medal, the salt of Vino winning gold.

    Hope the peloton enjoyed their sight seeing tour!

    Can we expect to see the same tactics again in the womens road race?

  • Paul

    What a great effort by the GB team, but it really was Mission Impossible…

    The BBC TV coverage was pretty poor – nothing wrong with the pictures but almost nothing in terms of how big the time gaps were, who was in the breaks, etc. Boardman’s commentary made it bearable.

    The biggest disappointment of the day was unrepentant drugs cheat Vinokourov winning….

  • Stepho

    Fantastic effort but four guys chasing for so long was ultimately an impossible task. The half hearted efforts of Germany and Australia (tho’ they had a man in the break) yielded them what they deserved – nothing. I did feel that GB could have tried putting eg Millar in a break to shake things up but once the group got so big and with so many good riders that was it. Gutted for Spartacus, he was looking good. Disappointed that the Kazak weasel won.

  • Tim Howcroft

    GB Team rode on the front to control the race, for practically the whole race. With their game plan I don’t think they could do any more. It was down to other countries to help pull things back together. I can understand riders from other countries not wanting to take Cav to the line but it would appear they did this at the expense of a medal for them selves. Germans were biggest losers with Griepel missing out on a medal and winning the bunch sprint.

  • adam

    It’s a shame, but it’s pretty much as Cav said… The boys rode themselves into the ground today, on the front all day long. Gutted for Cav and respect to him for saying what he has said. Wasn’t happy to see the winner either… some of us haven’t forgotten his paltry ban and ‘retirement’….

  • Colin Adkins

    Are cycling going to take up the issue of the appalling TV coverage. Mostly long shots, no chance of identifying the riders,almost no info. on time gaps. Even the commentators couldn’t tell what was happening. TV coverage of the TDF 40 years ago was far superior despite technology having moved on so much.
    The company responsible are just about capable of covering the Little Walop Charity bike ride.
    A disgrace!
    Come on Cycling you need to follow this up and name names.
    Shame bout the result as well.

  • Mike

    Respect to team GB. 4 guys can not control the peloton for 250k, not humanly possible.

    I think Cav may just have something when he said the other sprinters teams dont mind losing as long as Cav dous not win.

    Just a shame that cheat Vino won. Anyone but him.

  • Robert Markle

    I couldn’t even follow the race the streaming was so bad.
    Watched the tour from start to finish without a hiccup though so not really sure what NBC did wrong here.