March 21/06 9:03 am - Commonwealth Games: ITT Report & Photos
Posted by Editoress on 03/21/06
Commonwealth Games Melbourne, Australia
Reports made possible by the support of MAXXIS tires
Australia cleaned up on the first day of the road events, sweeping the women's time trial medals and winning gold and silver in the men's category, with only a New Zealand bronze denying them a total haul of the medals. Canada's top result was Svein Tuft in seventh place, a full two and a half minutes behind gold medalist Nathan O'Neill.
In the men's race, O'Neill had been the favourite, and he did not disappoint. "I was absolutely ready. I knew I had good form after the Tour of California (where he finished fifth in the time trial and fifth overall). I came here to win; I wasn't ready to be second."
Despite his seeming ease in victory, O'Neill admitted to the pressure. "This isn't something that happens every day - this is once in a lifetime. To put it together on the day, with the pressure and the emotion of being in your home country and being the last person off; well, that is something that you cannot duplicate. I've always said that you can win bike races all around the world, but until you are racing in front of the home crowd, that is really an accomplishment to me."
His Australian compatriot Ben Day took the silver, and was only 24 seconds back, while Kiwi Gordon McCauley took the bronze at 1:13. McCauley's ride was impressive, given that he had been hit by a car while training on New Year's Eve, and broke his wrist. A non-time trial specialist, McCauley is now motivated to focus on the discipline for Beijing. "With only two months of specific time trial training I was able to accomplish this. Now I'm definitely thinking of Beijing (Olympics) - what can I do in 18 months?"
Tuft was philosophical about his placing, despite entering the race as one of the favourites. "It's just a lack of racing in my legs. I started fading after eight kilometres - I went out hard like I should, but realistically, coming from Canada, it's hard to have the same form as these guys. For the time of year for me this was a pretty good ride."
Zach Bell, who finished 13th, was also pleased with his ride: "It was a solid ride for me. It has been an intense week, with all the track racing, and the limiting factor for me was muscle fatigue."
In the women's race it was Australia 1-2-3, led by former World Cup series winner Oenone Wood. Her team mate Sara Carrigan - the Olympic road champion - took the bronze, and 1994 Commonwealth Games road champion Kathie Watt the silver. Sue Palmer-Komar was the top Canadian in 8th, followed by Erinne Willock in 10th. Palmer-Komar commented that "this is the best performance I could hope for, so I'm pretty pleased. I asked Lyne (Bessette) if I could borrow her legs, but that would have gotten rather complicated. For the time of year, this is the best I can hope for. This wasn't the best course for me either, I like something tougher, with more climbing."
The big surprise in the women's race was the non-start of favourite Sarah Ulmer (New Zealand). Ulmer, who had been warming up before the race, held a news conference to explain that she had been suffering from a pinched nerve in her back. She was visibly upset when explaining why she wouldn't be racing (since the time trial position would aggravate the problem, but expects to compete in the road race. "I'll be even more hungry for a gold medal" she warned.