Team England fielded Russell Downing, Tom Moses and Scott Thwaites to face the media in its final press call before tomorrow's Commonwealth Games men’s road race. What did the foot soldiers predict for the event?
Sitting in a rain-lashed tent in the shadow of Celtic Park, home of Glasgow Celtic FC, Tom Moses was well wrapped up in his Team England kit. Which was just as well since the wind was blowing hard and the temperature was just about in double figures. Welcome to summer in Scotland!
“If the weather stays like this, windy and wet, then I can see there being a lot of crashes tomorrow,” mused the Rapha Condor-JLT rider, looking unconcerned.
“But I’m confident in my tyre and my bike handling, so if you can stay at the front it should be OK, you should be able to stay out of trouble. It’ll feel a lot like a Belgian kermesse!”
Like both Scott Thwaites (NetApp Endura) and Russell Downing (NFTO), Moses had ridden the 2013 national road race held on the same course and all three of them knew what to expect.
“I could see the race following same pattern and a break going clear very early on,” stated Moses, “one thing’s for sure, it’ll be a lot easier to be in the front and being in the early move than trying to get up to the race from behind after a break goes.”
Downing accepted that on paper the Australian team was the strongest in the field, “Yeah, I think that might help us in some ways because nobody will be looking to us to make the race, we can maybe follow a little bit more, but we’ll decide on the tactics and who’s doing what after dinner tonight.
“I can see the Australians riding to keep it together for a 30 or 40 rider sprint at the end for Mark Renshaw and Caleb Ewan, but we’ll have to keep our eyes open to see what happens – the New Zealand team is strong and so is Wales and Pete Kennaugh is going well for the Isle of Man – I hear [Mark] Cavendish is DS’ing for them!”
Like Downing and Moses, Scott Thwaites had hardly had a taxing race programme in the lead-in to the Games. “I didn’t get selected for the Tour,” said a lean-looking Thwaites, “and I didn’t go to Tour of Qinghai Lake either which, if I’m honest, didn’t upset me too much, I had a little break then got down to training for this.
“It’s a tough course, last year was hard, it felt like you were constantly sprinting out of corners and having to stay on your toes, there’s nowhere really to recover either, so it’s important to be in the front group. If it’s wet people start to leave a little more room for each other and that’s how a gap can form.”
With Ian Stannard second on the same course in 2013, it’s clear than the Sky rider can produce a ride, given his classy win in the time trial Alex Dowsett is in good form and Steve Cummings of BMC is coming back to good form following an accident earlier in the season.
It’s far from a forgone conclusion that there’s a medal of any colour in the team, but there’s enough firepower there to give them a fighting chance. Assuming they can avoid crashes and race smart to outfox the Aussie favourites.