Mark Cavendish and the British cycling team spit out the bit, but Cavendish gets an Olympic gold for being a total prat. The gold-medal favourite in the men’s road race was all over the tabs Sunday morning, whining about how other countries hadn’t offered the Brits support.
“It seems like most teams are happy not to win as long as we don’t win,” Cavendish whined. “There’s 70 guys in our group at the finish. I don’t understand why there’s only three guys riding. It doesn’t make sense. No one wants to help us. The Australians sit there. They always just ride negatively. They’re happy to see us lose.”
Cavendish shockingly upbraided a TV reporter – live – when he was asked if the Tour de France might have had an impact on the teams fitness, questioning whether his interviewer had ever watched a race. Cavendish called it a “stupid question” as he was moved on by a handler. Now, as someone who covers baseball, I am more than aware that every sport has “unwritten rules,” many of which are plain daft and depend on a skewed sense of interpretation, but Cavendish’s outburst only exacerbated the negative tone of Day 1.
Complicating matters was the manner in which the BBC’s coverage of cycling – a sexy sport for the Brits – was hamstrung by technical and informational glitches that left announcers misidentifying leaders and, at one point, pleading on the air for somebody to do something. The BBC formally apologized, noting that the pictures were provided by the Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS), with a BBC spokesman saying the OBS “explained that there were GPS problems with the Locog-supplied timing graphics.”
At any rate, British hopes are being raised at the Eton Dorney rowing venue – where I am today. The weather’s mixed, but the site itself is wonderful. Quintessentially British countryside, complete with happy, fat, sheep and one of the largest outdoor bicycle ‘locker’ I have ever seen. There are few if any empty seats here and the crowds are enthusiastic and knowledgeable.
Frankly? If I was a tourist this would be the one venue I’d be moving heaven and earth in order to see. Shame about the instant coffee in the media centre, however.