Monthly Archives: March 2012

Dowsett 2012 hopes hit by injury

Alex Dowsett has admitted that an ongoing infection following an elbow injury has put a major dent in his Olympic qualification hopes.

The National Time Trial champion broke the joint in three places following a fall in Belgium earlier in the month.

“I am going to be up against it but it’s not over until it’s over,” the 23-year-old from Maldon told BBC Essex.

“It’s very frustrating. In another year I’d be enjoying the down time, but in an Olympic year the timing is bad.”

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My elbow was kind of in three pieces, which wasn’t brilliant

Alex Dowsett

Dowsett expects to be sidelined for a further five weeks and will face a race against time to produce performances before the selection period for the Great Britain cycling team closes on the 27 May.

As well as having designs on competing in the time trial, Dowsett hopes his role as the training partner of road race team leader Mark Cavendish will bolster his chances.

“I’ve had a good start to the season and proved my worth as a team-mate to Mark Cavendish. Hopefully the selection committee will take that into consideration,” he said.

“While I know I can be fit for race day in terms of the Olympics, I’ll be missing out on a lot of the selection races. I’m taking a positive attitude as always.”

Dowsett suffered the initial injury during a collision in stage three of the 3-Daagse van West-Vlaanderen race, but afterwards drove back to England before realising the extent of the problem.

“My elbow was kind of in three pieces, which wasn’t brilliant,” he explained.

“I had a plate and six screws put in. During the operation I was unlucky and picked up an infection.

“Things are improving. In five weeks’ time I’m having the plate out and we can get rid of the infection for good – and I should be back going again.”

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Armitstead targets Flanders win

Lizzie Armitstead believes victory at this weekend’s Tour of Flanders could help her make sure of a place in the British Olympic road cycling team.

Armitstead, 23, faces Nicole Cooke – her GB team-mate but fierce rival for lead rider in the squad – as they ride for separate teams in Sunday’s race.

“I’m hoping to peak this weekend. The Tour of Flanders is the main goal of the spring,” Armitstead told the BBC.

Four women will compete for Team GB in the London 2012 road race.

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I’m trying to peak now in order to have some results for them to select me on

Lizzie Armitstead

Those four places will not be filled by the selectors until 7 June, later than many other Olympic sports.

But while four will ride, only one can win the gold medal. Both Armitstead and Cooke believe they can put forward strong cases to be chosen as the focus of the team.

Armitstead was set up as the leader for last year’s World Championships in Copenhagen, but chaos following a crash saw Cooke – who is the defending Olympic champion – strike out for the finish alone,

creating acrimony between the two. 

Last week Cooke, who rides for Faren Honda when not in GB colours, said the row with Armitstead had simmered down.

“I have forgiven her and we have moved on,”

said the 28-year-old. 

But Armitstead’s impressive form so far this year, including victory in the first-ever women’s Gent-Wevelgem road race earlier in March, may add pressure on Cooke to respond in kind.

This summer’s road race course is considered likely to encourage a bunch sprint finish. Armitstead, who rides for Dutch team AA Drink/ this year alongside British team-mates Sharon Laws, Emma Pooley and Lucy Martin, thinks that will suit her.

“London is potentially a sprinter’s course so they’ll select riders who are good at sprinting, and not necessarily riders that would suit a more mountainous kind of course,” Armitstead told BBC Radio 5 live’s London Calling programme.

“Selection is on 7 June and that’s pretty late. That’s why I’m trying to peak now, in order to have some results for them to select me on something.

“I’ll take a break in May, then build up again in the hope I’m selected for July.”

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Cavendish backs Yorkshire Tour

Mark Cavendish and Ben Swift are backing Yorkshire’s bid to bring the Tour de France to the county in 2016.

Cavendish, who

won the green jersey last year for being the Tour’s best sprinter,

said: “My mum is from Yorkshire so I’m proud to be backing the Yorkshire 2016 bid.”

Team Sky team-mate Ben Swift said he would love to see a stage of the race run in his home county.

The Yorkshire Grand Depart

Welcome to Yorkshire say that the route would take in Leeds, Scarborough, York, Hull, Sheffield and the Yorkshire Dales.

“It would be amazing to be part of the peloton through the Dales,” he said.

The first two days of racing, the Grand Depart, are held in a new location outside France every two years.

Yorkshire is competing against Barcelona, Venice, Berlin and Scotland

for the right to host the 2016 stages.

Stages were last held in the UK in 2007 when London and Kent played host.

Cavendish, who has won 20 Tour de France stages, believes the county’s natural beauty will prove attractive to the race’s organisers.

“The county would provide a stunning backdrop to the Tour as well as a real test for the competitors,” he said.

“I have fond memories of holidaying in Yorkshire, a lot of my family still live there and it would be fantastic if the world’s greatest cycle race could come to Yorkshire.”

Swift added: “It’s special to say you’ve raced the Tour de France, I’m proud to be able to say I have. I would love to see the Tour come to my home county, and I hope [tourism agency] Welcome to Yorkshire can make it happen in 2016.”

More than 185 countries around the world show the Tour de France every year on 92 different television channels with the last hour of every stage broadcast live across western Europe.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, wants the public to back the bid by signing a petition on their

Back le Bid website. 

“Some may see us as outsiders but we think Yorkshire has a lot to offer, not just our stunning scenery but the passion of our people and the expertise we have in hosting world class sporting events,” he said.

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An early Summer…

Wow, what fantastic weather, although a bit mixed up with very cold early mornings and baking hot by home time! (yeah yeah, I know it wont last ;) )

Setting off in the morning with full fingered gloves, skull cap and long sleeves, only to ride home in short sleeves and mitts :) This has led to a couple of “heavy” return commutes, panniers loaded with the excess clothing on top of the usual day wear. But heck, wouldn’t swap this for the rain!

Gradually the pace is getting better for the 16 mile return leg of the commute, so far the quickest has been a few seconds over 56mins, and given the two long climbs I am pretty pleased with that – I’ll soon be back sub 54 mins that I was at last year.

The added daylight is such a bonus now the clocks have gone forward, and it does help with feeling a little safer, although the rear lights are always on for added visibility.

Enjoy the weather, enjoy the riding!

BMX star Shanaze Reade: I wanted to quit

At Beijing 2008, Britain’s gold-medal favourite Shanaze Reade

crashed out

of her Olympic BMX final.

“In a matter of seconds my Olympic dream was over,” she told me. She even thought of quitting the sport afterwards.

“I didn’t want to do BMX. But then I saw my grandad come home from work miserable and realised I never felt that from BMX.

“But if I was to say I got over it quickly, then I’d be lying.”

There are plenty of other Olympic sports where, if you don’t win the gold, you at least don’t end up literally lying in the dirt with everyone else flying past you.

In those other sports, you might simply reach the finish a little later, having not had quite the speed you needed to win. Shanaze? She was on the dirt, battered and bruised having injured herself in the process, and that’s nothing to how she must have been feeling emotionally.

She learned some lessons in the most public of arenas.

“It was one of the hardest things I’ve faced in my career,” she recalled. “I was in complete shock because I’d won the world title just three months previously.”

Three times Reade, from Crewe, has won BMX world titles – she also has two world team sprint golds on the track to her name. This year, she gets two bites at a home event: the forthcoming

BMX World Championships 

in Birmingham and then the London Olympics.

“Not every athlete from other countries get to have a dry run [in their own country] before the Olympics.

“I get to have my family and friends there and test out the atmosphere. Because it’s indoors there’ll be a roar around the arena.”

London Calling

BBC Radio 5 live

  • Listen from 1930 BST on Thursday, 29 March on BBC Radio 5 live
  • Katharine Merry and Steve Parry bring you exclusive interviews and updates from a range of Olympic sports
  • This week: Liam Tancock, Shanaze Reade, Chantal Petitclerc, Luol Deng and more
  • Follow the best Olympic sports reporting from the BBC online each Thursday – search for #olympicthursday on Twitter

Reade is aware that she is the best in the world at what she does, but she is no longer taking anything for granted. Elements of naivety crept in during 2008 – she was clearly expected by everyone else to win the gold medal and looked like she went in too aggressively with her ride.

I don’t think she’s going to make any of those mistakes again this year.

“Even in the week leading up [to a big race], I don’t think about winning,” she said. “I think of the process, each part of the track. If I get through that then the results take care of themselves. I don’t go in wanting to win, but to do the best I can.”

In spite of that, it is obvious to see how keen she is to win at the Olympics. But she also comes across as a warm, intriguing person who has developed her focus and learned a lot.

We spoke at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester. The velodrome there has always had an aura, since track cycling has been so successful, and one of the most important things they have recently added is this shed – a huge shed, a very expensive shed, but a shed all the same – in which there is a new BMX track.

It really is quite daunting when you walk in and the first thing you realise is, if you thought a BMX track was just a few little mounds and a ramp, the sheer size is absolutely unbelievable.

I had a go while I was there. As a swimmer, I was an aerobic athlete – I’ve put on a bit of weight, granted, but you have got to permanently put pressure on your arms and legs in order to stay on. I couldn’t believe how physical it was.

And that was without going down the massive start ramp to pick up ridiculous amounts of speed. I got really excited about BMX while I was there. Track cycling is great, road cycling is fantastic, but I think BMX will be one of the big winners at London 2012.

It has all the music (who’s allowed to pick their own tune to race to in any other event?), two British contenders in Reade and Liam Phillips, and a lot of kids are going to get on to that this summer.

When I had the right mindset going into a big event, I always achieved. When I had doubts and fears, I fell short. I think a lot of British athletes will experience that for themselves at their home Olympics.

But if I could be so bold, from what I picked up from Shanaze, she is in exactly the right headspace. I back her to get the medal.

London Calling.

Steve Parry was speaking to BBC Sport’s Ollie Williams.

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