Fabian Cancellara will defend his Olympic time trial crown on Wednesday despite an awkward crash in the London 2012 men’s road race on the weekend.
Young American Taylor Phinney could stand to benefit from what is becoming a weakened and diminished field with Australia’s Cadel Evans withdrawing due to fatigue.
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) announced in a statement yesterday that Evans, who consulted with cycling Dr Mark Fisher and Olympic team medical director Dr Peter Baquie, would not recover in time for the 44km race.
The 35-year-old will not be replaced and Michael Rogers will be Australia’s sole representative in the event. Evans was suffering from intestinal problems and allergies in the final week of the Tour de France, which he entered as defending champion.
Cancellara (Switzerland) overshot a corner with about 15km remaining in the men’s road race on Saturday, careering into a barrier and appearing to land heavily on his shoulder. The quadruple time trial world champion suffered a multiple collarbone fracture earlier this year but despite being visibly in pain and nursing his arm after last week’s crash the Swiss rider has not broken anything.
Reigning world champion Tony Martin (Germany) fractured his scaphoid in a fall at the Tour de France this month and later withdrew. The 27-year-old has worn a brace in training and after doing his bit to assist Andre Greipel did not finish the Olympic road race.
Phinney is competing in his second Games but first on the road after racing on the track in Beijing.
The Giro d’Italia prologue winner finished an impressive fourth in the road race, making the decisive breakaway that Great Britain’s Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, David Millar, Ian Stannard and protected rider Mark Cavendish could not reel in.
The 22-year-old Phinney hasn’t raced since the Giro in May instead choosing to prepare specifically for the Games from a base in Boulder, Colorado.
“I think Tony didn’t finish the road race probably on purpose, he did some work on the front and then kind of called it a day, just so he could save it up for the time trial,” Phinney told Cycling Weekly.
“He’s had a rough past couple of weeks, Cancellara’s had a rough past 24 hours, Wiggins and Froome, in the road race, were both on the front trying to reel us, who were up in the breakaway, in. The time is now, for sure.
“You never want to see someone like Cancellara crash and hurt himself, as a rider you never like to see that, but as an outsider for a medal in the time trial, it’s a big opportunity to have guys who are pretty warped from the road race coming in as favourites.”