Chris Froome felt disappointed with his and Great Britain’s ride today in the World Championships. In Florence’s pouring rain, the entire team abandoned.

“It’s a big disappointment, especially after trying so hard coming into it and making it a big objective,” Froome told journalists including Cycling Weekly. “It would’ve been fantastic to finish off the season with a result here. With the condition, it wasn’t to be…”

The rain started early this morning around 7:00 and only became heavier as the race made its way from Lucca to Florence. Once the first of the 10 circuits around Florence’s north began, riders started pulling out.

Rain and crashes marked the day but the Tour de France champion made no excuses. Froome added, “The conditions are the same for everyone, so we have no excuse.”

Froome called it “game over” about 170 kilometres into the 272.26-kilometre race, the wettest one since Valkenburg in 1998 or Oslo in 1993. He wanted to race all day but heard the splits and felt isolated.

“The first three laps, or even before the circuits, there were crashes everywhere,” he said with rain falling and thunder sounding outside the Sky bus. “It’s just the weather today, it’s been raining solidly, all the drains are flooding, at some points on the road we were that deep in water.

“It was what caused most of the crashes, people trying to move up on the sides and just getting stuck in the gutters and things… After three laps, I looked around, I saw I didn’t have any team-mates with me and thought, this isn’t happening today.”

The morning started in the worst ways. The Sunday Times reported that the UCI, cycling’s governing body, is investigating Sky’s Jonathan Tiernan-Locke due to biological passport abnormalities. He was originally due to race but pulled out on Thursday, citing bad form.

“I heard about it the first thing this morning also,” said Froome. “I don’t want to comment until I know all the details. Obviously, it’s a shock to all of us.”

  • h Hood

    Couldn’t believe it when the live TV coverage began and situation was revealed. The BBC commentary team were clearly thrown into confusion because they had clearly assumed they would spend the two hours wittering on and on about the British team, only to have to talk about a bunch of gutsy foreigners who battled through rain, crashes etc. If the ITV4 team had been on the case they would have provided a sparkling commentary as they know all the riders’ achievements by heart. But good on Rodriguez and Costa going head to head at the end to give the crowd what it wanted. I felt sorry for Nibali who deserved a medal for sheer guts in getting back on his bike in what seemed to most as a gallant but futile gesture but who battled his way (okay, with a bit of help, according to the commentary team) back to the peleton and then made the attack. Cancellara, too, showed his class and sheer grit. I remember him a few years ago in the Tour de France absolutely burying himself on a tough climb while leading Andy Schleck. There were other riders who entered the race as the lone representative of their country, knowing they would have no team support. As someone else wrote here, the British team didn’t show respect to the race – nor, I might add, to their sponsors and all those who support them, from the backroom staff to the members of the British pubkic who were standing in the rain on the roadside or sitting more comfortably on the sofa in front of the TV.

  • Ken Evans

    You have to look to the team management, and staff, if you can’t get riders motivated to ride in the World Road Race Championship then there is something wrong. It is what you dream of as a rider; the biggest stars of the sport, a huge global TV audience, a chance to make a name for yourself (if only in a doomed break). If other riders are crashing out, then you have more of a chance, just by staying upright. Italy in Sepember has been known to rain before, as in the Tour Of Lombardy. Local knowledge of the conditions should have helped them. But the GB team didn’t perform so well in the other races either, when there wasn’t so much rain, so it should indicate that there is a more general problem to look into.

  • Mike T

    Point taken by those saying the British riders should relish what was essentially ‘British’ weather, however my guess is – and I’m happy to be corrected – that few if any of them spend much time training here in the cold and rain.
    Also there may well be problems when most of the national team are drawn from one trade team.

    All credit to Sky for backing pro cycling but it seems to me to be a major mistake to have what should be two discrete teams share management and riders. That is simply not healthy.

    Great ride by those four contesting the finishing 3 or 4 Km… and though he didn’t get a medal Nibali showed real guts and rode himself into the ground against the odds.

  • Matt Sutton

    Shame the team couldnt rise to the occasion when they have SO MUCH TALENT and clearly underperformed. Cop out that Wiggins rode to silver in the time trial but couldnt put the effort in for Froome, when Cancellara managed a top ten so its clearly not a lack of form. Tough conditions but thought the team was made of tougher stuff. As we are from the UK, its not like we havent seen rain before, perhaps Wiggins would benefit from training in it once in a while and certain members of the team honour the jersey their genetics and the selectors have given them the honour of wearing. Disappointing.

  • Anthony Slack

    Rui Costa was hardly surrounded by teamates, either! Uncomfortable silence from all other riders and management. Something bigger stirring? No-one want to come out and field the JTL questions?

  • SJP

    Tactically, what was the point in trying to control a one day race like a tour stage? Surely you go for more opportunist and aggressive riders and let others burn themselves out early. Aside from that I’m really annoyed at the rank bad attitude from the Brits. “It wasn’t my day”; “The weather wasn’t good”; etc, etc. All feels a bit unsatisfactory in a world championship to me.

  • Shurdyrover

    Well it might turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the Sky / GB team! Surely they will learn from this showing? Other teams might have finished but did they do any better in terms of medals?? The Italians looked the part and only had Nibali at the end(think their tactics were por), the Spanish with 2 in first 4 should have sorted out Rui Costa, then there were the Belgian, Dutch and French teams who did not deliver!
    Well done to all those who finished especially EBH, Sagan, Cancellara and especially Bartosz Huzarski (Poland)!!
    Personally I thought it was a boring course with too many circuits!

  • Angelo

    it seems incredible to me, English riders suffering rain (see also Wiggo at giro) and Mediterranean riders fighting until the end. Were are gone Froome’s 120 -130 rpm uphill? That would have been useful climbing Fiesole and via Salviati!
    An italian reader

  • Colnago Dave

    Like GG/GG I could not believe GB riding at the front, went out for a couple of hours on the bike came ack and no GB rider visible.

    With around 200K to go Cav was on the front but there seemed to be some conversation between him and the other GB riders, wonder what it was.

    Why Froome was considered as a potential medal winner in front of G is absurd, good tour rider Froome may be but what is his record inhard one day races to justify this. Climbing in the tour does not equate to the continuous hard efforts on these type of roads. Cancellara will never win the KOM in a tour but look at his record in the Tour of Flanders which is of a similar nature.

  • Douscot

    A humiliation and it doesn’t help that the selection turned out to be the climbers Froome battled in France. He would have had a modest chance but the team had imploded by then.

  • Geoff Waters, Durban, South Africa

    When the going gets tough the tough get going! Cav riding tempo on the front on the road from Lucca-why? Italians showing great team tactics on the circuit. Hard team work by the Belgians, Swiss, French and Dutch. It was just like in the good old days of Merckx, Raas and Poulidor etc. Rui Costa, the lone Portuguese, beats Nibali and the two Spanish ‘friends’ who sat in the bunch all day. The 2013 Brits … will we next be seeing them all on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’?

  • Norman lomax

    Tremendously disappointing day for British Cycling. I expect more of a fight from our heroes when they represent the country .Even after realising the early tactical errors they should have recognised they have a responsibility that goes with the paycheque to show the young ‘uns what looks like grit and determination fighting against the odds. I know they have achieved amazing and inspiring things but this was the Worlds and it feels like they threw in the towel.

  • Charles Rhind

    This race needed guts and desire. Voeckler and others were with Froome in the split after a big crash but they made it back. Sky hasn’t got to grips with one day racing which to foreign fans is important as the big tours. Needs some nouse that the traditional cycling nations have and new kids on the block, GB, are lacking. Remember Sky had a ‘Classics squad’ this season. All it produced was a fourth place (I think) for Geraint Thomas in a minor classic. In all the ‘monuments’ poor old Geraint ended up on his backside!

  • Maurice Cairns

    Well, I thought I had seen it all, with the British team going so well. But they can still bite you in the backside. Has no one told them about when the going gets tough the tough get going ?

  • bigsambw

    first thing cookson should sort out is a british cycling team that can compete!

  • Dan

    When the going gets tough, the Brits drop out. We should be the best riders in bad weather, its what we live on……. I agree, that you ride to finish even if you don`t think you will get a podium place!

  • bromfield Brian

    How come Portuguese and Spanish are up front in weather that Brits should revel in ? No brits at the end cos’ of the bad weather ?? HMMMMM!

  • ted hutton

    Oh dear the rain in spain is mainly on the plain Oh sorry Tuscany is in Italy

    never mind B/W wil soon have have his stabilizers on the market.

  • Bingers

    Not one British finisher! Huge disappointment. Crashes and mishaps aside, I have to say that for Tour winner Froome to give up simply because he had no team mates left in support is the poorest of excuses. Was this a case of realising he wouldn’t make the podium so it wasn’t worth the effort? If so, that shows lack of respect for the World title race and for the others who struggled to the finish knowing their chances of a medal were also nil.
    Smacks of podium-itus – if you can’t medal don’t bother!

  • Baz

    Weather conditions and crashes aside, it’s puzzling that most of the British team, led by Cav, rode at the front of the field after the break had gone soon after the start. For over two hours. Was it the first part of a ‘Cunning Plan’?

  • gg/gg

    Not surprised he’s disappointed. Who chose the tactics? Have they not learned from the Olympics that you can’t ride a class field off your wheels? They applied tactics like a 3rd cat race start instead of waiting. As for “Sir” ; he was worse than useless and lived up to predictions that if it rained he would pack in (which he did); give back your “Sir” and half your salary as you’ve done nothing this year.