Inside the Olympics with Tony Gibb: Bagging medals, blagging seats

We’re proud to have access to former world silver and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist – and now Eurosport commentator – Tony Gibb, who is providing us with a daily insider’s view of life in and around the Olympic velodrome. Here’s his view of Sunday’s action from the velodrome – and the main Olympic stadium.

Another medal for Clancy

Track World Cups last three days, occasionally four, while the World Championships last five days. At those we have the five Olympic events plus a scratch race, individual pursuit, kilo/500-metre time trial and men’s Madison. So why, why oh why has the Olympic schedule taken six days? The sessions have been short, very short. I just think we could have had it all wrapped up a bit quicker, and quite a few of the riders who I have spoken to feel the same.

So when I got to the track tonight, I saw the track manager. I asked him what idiot decided it would be a good idea to kick Brad out the other day. He said that would be me. Well, that was an awkward moment! Anyway, we discussed it. He told me it was holding up worldwide TV pictures. I told him it wasn’t. We disagreed and walked away from each other. Never liked him anyway!

So back to the bike racing, There was just one round of the sprints today. Like I said, it all could have been wrapped up much quicker.

But tonight belongs to ‘Red’ Clancy. Okay, so he had a howler in the scratch race, but Glenn O’Shea far exceeded Ed’s troubles by at times looking like he had just finished the men’s triple jump, the size of the squares he was pedalling. Elia Viviani and Bryan Coquard were head and shoulders above the rest in the elimination race, as they had been all year, but despite Clancy’s best efforts of taking out Lasse Norman Hansen by knocking him off he took a lap in the scratch and held his own in the elimination. The Dane posted the fastest time in the pursuit, and with Clancy PBing with a very close second it was all set for a final showdown.

The Dane held on in the kilo, Viviani went out very fast and parked in the bus stop, Coquard held his own for silver and Clancy produced a time only two-tenths outside Sir Chris Hoy’s winning time and Olympic record from Athens. With three team pursuits and the rest of the omnium events in his legs in the last four days. Machine!

In other news, GB admit that they have round wheels without magic dust in them, the French still accuse their own national wheel sponsor and French brand Mavic of colluding with GB to have placed 17 hamsters inside each disc wheel to run furiously when needed to assist in setting world records. Oh and the hot pants have been proven to just be McLaren F1 tyre warmers painted blue.

Star-spotting at the 100 metres final

Apparently this Gerrard bloke is quite good at football?

In other, other news, and the highlight of my games so far, through furious blagging and copious … Sod it, I’ll just admit I lied through my teeth and wangled my way in to the 100 metres final! My good friend Will Carling was watching so I made some lame excuse to the purple t-shirt on the door that I just wanted to say hi to Lisa and then managed to hot seat my way around until 21:50 and see the most popular event of the Games.

Usain Bolt delivered but sod that, I was sat behind the Queen (well, Dame Helen Mirren), Steven Gerrard and somewhat amazingly just across the stairs from the one and only Lionel Messi! I have to admit I was slightly star-struck, but only slightly though! Normality will resume tomorrow.

Inside the Olympics with Tony Gibb: Super Saturday

We’re proud to have access to former world silver and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist – and now Eurosport commentator – Tony Gibb, who is providing us with a daily insider’s view of life in and around the Olympic velodrome. Here’s his view of Saturday’s track action.

More gold on Super Saturday

This was always going to be a quiet day. I was so hoping, given my luck so far this week thanks to Mr Wiggins and various stars of yesteryear rocking up, that Elvis, Michael Jackson and Shergar were going to put in a shift. No joy, however!

Kenny was blisteringly fast in the early stages of the men’s sprint (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

So on the bike riding front, Jason Kenny qualified fastest in the sprint with Gregory Bauge second – and a fairly distant second at two tenths off. To be fair, it’s not until tomorrow (Sunday) that we will really seen these guys’ teeth, Both Bauge and Kenny have progressed without raising a sweat, both getting a free ride in the first round and then defeating their opponents in the second round with looks that questioned the inconvenience of having to get off the rollers at all.

The biggest news? Shane Perkins of Western New Zealand – a new province formerly referred to as Austraila, who are having a miserable Olympics – almost had a touch-down in his heat and threw a bit of a strop before his opponent was relegated. Robert Forstemann also had to come back through the repercharge, having been heated by Nisanje Phillip. And it was no fluke, he was just out-dragged.

The news didn’t get much better for the Australians in the women’s team pursuit, losing out to Canada for the bronze medal. Team GB – represented by Dani King, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell – won the event in their sixth consecutive world record time, lowering the bench mark for the event by six seconds in the last eight months alone. The USA have obviously been working hard at this event and pulled off an impressive second place.

Forgive me if I don’t sound particularly gushing about the event and result. But the GB girls are so good and so far ahead that it was almost a non-contest. I am not taking away from their achievement in any way at all – the world records show just how special their efforts and how good a team they are – but this was a nailed-on medal from day one!

The men’s omnium is well under way. Big Ed Clancy is doing very well indeed. More on that tomorrow. I do, however, think we need a sniper in the roof to ensure withdrawal when you are eliminated. The vibrating red boxes just don’t cut it!

So in closing, a couple of extra little snippets for you. Paul McCartney was in the crowd singing Hey Jude, and Mavic have quietly released a new version of the Mavic iO. There’s something tricky going on with the hub but more significantly the spokes are much thinner. And no more news on Wiggins security breach gate.

Night all!

Inside the Olympics with Tony Gibb: Crossing the line

We’re proud to have access to former world silver and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist – and now Eurosport commentator – Tony Gibb, who is providing us with a daily insider’s view of life in and around the Olympic velodrome. Here’s his view of the first day of track action yesterday (Thursday).

It’s getting hot in here

So the first day of track competition, and I am buzzing! It’s all hit home: I’m here, at the Olympics. It’s weird being so close, knowing all the people involved.

So after an early morning training spin, followed by late brekky, Dave wants to head to the track early and wants to try the javelin train from King’s Cross. So after a 20-minute walk in the sun, a eight-minute train journey and another 45-minute walk through the park we arrive at a very, very warm track. Now I understand why everyone wants it hot but you walk through the first airtight door and one of the 75,000 purple t-shirt brigade will not let you walk through the next airtight sealed door until the first one is closed.

Anyway, all set. We found our spot in a rather good position right by the finish line, had all my research done, paperwork with me so I started wondering around and saying a few hellos! Chris Boardman, Rob Hayles – you know, old mates. Giovanni Lombardi, who is a good friend and a top, top guy. Scott McGrory, with whom I took my one and only six-day win. Freddy Magne, Maurizio Fondriest – who Giovanni introduced me too – who is just such a nice down-to-earth guy and just wanted to know where and when we were going out in London. Now that could end up messy!

Talking points

So, over to the track. A track is a track – it’s the people who make the atmosphere, and I have to say that the crowd here was simply stunning: applause and cheers just for GB riders warming up, and even the very first competitor in the women’s team sprint received a massive cheer, as did every Olympic and world record regardless of nation.

It was heartbreak for Jess Varnish as a split-second error cost GB a guaranteed medal (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

There were three massive talking points through the evening. Firstly the disqualification of the GB women’s team sprinters, Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish. The start/finish line for timed events is exactly half-way along each straight. For the team sprint there is a line 15 metres before and 15 metres after the start/finish line. When one rider is completing their lap in either the men’s or women’s team sprint they cannot come out of the sprinter’s line before the first 15-metre line and must be out of it by the second line. Additionally the front wheel of the following rider cannot overlap the back wheel of the lead rider before the first 15-metre line. Sadly for Great Britain, they fell foul of both of these rules.

This, as you can imagine was met with boos from the crowd that you would not believe! So Jess and Vicky packed up and left. My heart goes out to Jess. It’s harsh but that’s elite sport: the rules are the rules.

It was somewhat welcomed in the final when the Chinese team were relegated to second having beaten the Germans, for the same reasons. However, given that it took a good ten minutes for the judges to decide this, interviews were being given, high-fives exchanged et cetera – but the result still hadn’t been officially announced yet.

From a media perspective I guess the medal ceremony was a fair pointer but a communique or announcement would have been nice. It’s fair to say the info and the distribution of it could be improved. Well, Guo Shuang stormed the judges’ desk to such an extent that they posted three purple t-shirts on it immediately afterwards and the Chinese riders’ French Daniel Morelon looked like he was going to start chopping heads off. He scared me and I was 75 metres away in the stands! Whether you or I agree or disagree, the rules are the rules and they were implemented fairly and consistently here.

So on to the men’s team sprint. Young Philip Hindes wasn’t happy with his start so he fell off. Now that’s quick thinking – proper sinister Dr Evil thinking – but quick nonetheless! Agree with it? Not me. Against the rules? No. Against the ‘spirit’, well, that’s for you to decide.

A GB record-tying fifth gold medal for Sir Chris Hoy (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Anyway, he dusted himself off and then with Jason Kenny and Sir Chris Hoy had a pretty faultless run through to the final where they demolished the French to take another gold for Team GB. They were just up after one lap, I think by 0.06s, then I think 0.09s after two laps, and then the talismanic demi-god that is Sir Chris Hoy brought it home by almost a quarter of a second. Now the French had a bit of a moan and tried to get GB disqualified but that wasn’t going anywhere and I think the crowd may have rioted if it had!

So a fantastic first day for Team GB. The world record in the team pursuit qualifier only warrants a mere mention in closing because quite frankly it’s going to get beaten again. The Aussies didn’t really show their full hand. I don’t think they will go fast enough to beat Team GB but it may be a bit closer than qualifying looked. Needless to say I got the bus home. Seven minutes walking and done!