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The British men endured a torrid day in the Olympic Road Race, with none of the UK quartet reaching the finish. But British Cycling Performance Director Dave Brailsford is confident that the women’s team can win tomorrow’s road race.
And Team GB have learned lessons from the men’s race which will help them tomorrow.
“Today was a war of attrition,” he told Cycling Weekly.
“That’s what everybody said it would be, and they were right. After all the moves, it finished in a small group, and that is probably what you’ll see tomorrow.”
Spaniard Samuel Sanchez won the road race ahead of Italy’s Davide Rebellin by sprinting to victory from a small group, and Brailsford is confident that Nicole Cooke can do the same in the women’s race.
“It’s hard to split the race on the climb. Nobody really split it today, until that very last effort. The Spanish tried, the Italians tried, but they couldn’t split it. People were going out the back all the time, but not many could get off the front,” he said.
Team GB have a similar advantage to that enjoyed by Spain and Italy in the men’s road race. Neither of the riders from these countries who made the final group – Rebalin and Sanchez – were the nominated team leaders. Rebellin was protecting defending champion Paolo Bettini, while Sanchez was working for race favourite Alejandro Valverde.
Rebellin and Sanchez enjoyed a strong position in the break, because nobody behind wanted to tow Valverde and Bettini to the front.
And for the first time at an Olympic Games, Team GB have a very strong support rider for Cooke in the form of climber Emma Pooley. As long as either Pooley or Cooke makes it into a break in the late part of the race, Britain’s hopes of a first gold medal of the Games will stay alive.
Brailsford also said that the team had learned logistical lessons from the men’s road race.
“The advantage now is that we know the race from start to finish. For example, the system this morning, getting to the start, was very difficult to understand. All the team have been through that experience and we’ve learned from today. We’ll put that to good effect tomorrow.”
Nicole Cooke, Sharon Laws get set for a training ride with women’s coach Julian Winn.
CW’s men’s road race report: All the drama from Beijing
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