Cycling: Gutsy ride takes toll on 'people's champion'

By Dylan Cleaver

Gordon McCauley. Photo / Getty Images
Gordon McCauley. Photo / Getty Images

NEW DELHI - Gordon McCauley knows his chances of repeating his feat of winning a medal in the men's time trial tomorrow all but evaporated on the streets of Delhi yesterday.

The self-styled people's champion rode aggressively to the end of yesterday's road race, finishing eighth in 3h 50m 57s, a minute behind the leaders.

For most of the race the Kiwi cyclist was in the breakaway group and for several laps it was just him and Northern Ireland's David McCann out in front stretching the field.

The effort has taken its toll on his 38-year-old body. Normally full of the joys of the world, McCauley was in survival mode back in the village yesterday after just two hours of fitful sleep.

"My body's not good," he said. "It's wrecked. I'm not going to be up to much in the time trial."

McCauley, who won bronze in the TT in Melbourne, will still take to the start line, "but I can't promise how fast I'll go".

McCauley said he approached Glen Mitchell about replacing Greg Henderson in the road team when he realised he wasn't in great time-trialling form in Melbourne.

"I didn't want to come over here and settle for eighth or ninth in the TT. I wanted to come over here and contribute," he said.

Lining up tomorrow also is Jack Bauer who, when McCauley and McCann were reeled in by a chasing group including two of the world's best sprinters, launched an inspired solo break. Even with 13 years' less work in his legs, you wonder how he will recover both physically and mentally for the time trial.

New Zealand's third rider, Jesse Sergent, will have enjoyed the break from the end of his track programme, is in great form and should be the best hope in the men's event.

It would be a surprise if there was not another medal in BikeNZ's keep after the women's event. Denmark-born Linda Villumsen recently finished third at the world champs in Melbourne. Unless she has an off day it is difficult to see her not featuring.

Melissa Holt, who has won the past three national time trials, and Alison Shanks, fresh off her win on the boards in the individual pursuit, round out the New Zealand contingent.

Hayden Roulston's silver in the 168km road was the 10th medal for BikeNZ.

It was achieved off the back of some inspired work from McCauley, Bauer and co who kept the pace so hot during the race that it sapped the energy from the legs of pre-race favourite Mark Cavendish.

It was close to perfect execution, with eventual winner Allan Davis also dropping off momentarily before he clawed his way back and used his extraordinary finishing speed to roll over Roulston.

"When you've five or six of the best sprinters in the world in the field, our only chance was to stack the break with riders and make them [the sprinters] work all day."

- NZ Herald

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