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The current time in Athens is 00:51 on September 30, 2020
Olympic Cycling News for August 22, 2004
Edited by Chris Henry
Former teammates on the road, friendly rivals Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) and Bradley McGee (Australia) squared off in the men's individual pursuit final in Athens Saturday, with Wiggins emerging the winner. The two riders, who were teammates on the French FDJeux.com road team before Wiggins joined Crédit Agricole this season, share an affinity for track racing and time trials, while competing most of the season on the road in Europe.
"This gold medal is something I have wanted since I was 12 years old, since I watched Chris Boardman win in Barcelona," Wiggins said after his win. "This is something you expect to happen to someone else, watching on the telly. When it happens to you it's a bit of a blur."
"This is incredible... Two years ago, Brad sent me a message [from the Commonwealth Games] to tell me his time. Nobody had gone that quickly since 1996. He raised the bar when he did 4:16 and now look: the top seven riders (in qualifying) were under 4:20."
Wiggins' dream of winning gold overcame a nightmare while sleeping the night before. "Last night I had a nightmare that I couldn't finish the pursuit," he said.
For McGee, the disappointment of missing out on gold was perhaps softened by seeing a friend take gold. "During the race, we're rivals," he said. "But afterwards we become friends again. Today Brad was the best.
"Congratulations Wiggo, it is a pleasure to race against you," McGee said. "I like the rivalry we can have on the track and then have a beer afterwards."
After three bronze medals from the last two Games, Australian Brad McGee was desperate for gold but was soundly beaten by Great Britain's Bradley Wiggins at the Olympic velodrome in the men's individual pursuit final. Wiggins clocked 4 minutes 16.304 seconds with McGee trailing with a time of 4:20.436.
"I'm happy, who couldn't be happy with a silver medal at the Olympics," said McGee, 28, who hails from Sydney. "But if I really look at it, I'm not in my best-ever form and I'm racing a guy in the form of his life. I don't know what to say. It's not often I'm in this position.
"It was hard to get going and just race it from there. But I just didn't have the legs to match the will."
McGee came into the Olympics with a back injury which has required daily treatment for the last six weeks. After a slow start in which he trailed by over a second inside 500m, McGee clawed his way back to within .4 of a second after 800 metres.
But the British 2003 world champion accelerated and pulled away from his predecessor with each lap in the final two kilometres. Spain's world champion Sergi Escobar won the bronze.
McGee took consecutive bronze in the individual pursuit at the Atlanta and Sydney Games and another in the team pursuit in 1996. McGee's Olympic chances seemed to be hit by his pre-Olympic curse again last month when the back injury forced him out of the Tour de France after five stages. He said he felt like he only had one leg when he pulled out but daily treatment from chiropractors and physiotherapists kept him on the bike.
Four years ago, McGee was an early gold medal favourite in Sydney until two weeks before the Games when he fell off his bike and snapped his collarbone. With the collarbone pinned, he jumped back on the bike and won the bronze which he rated as good as a gold medal in the circumstances.
He bounced back to win the world and Commonwealth titles in 2002 but his luck turned on him again last year. Low blood sugar levels which left him completely drained of energy forced him out of the world championships in Stuttgart, where Wiggins took the Australian's title.
By Rob Jones in Athens
A major fire occurred at the Olympic mountain bike venue Friday afternoon in Athens. At approximately 3:35pm local time, a fire started which quickly spread through a forested section of the venue. The cause of the fire is under police investigation, but it is believed to have been deliberately set. Thirty fire crews responded, with the first ones on the scene within minutes. Water bombers were also brought in.
Luckily, wind pushed the fire away from the athletes' village and Olympic administrative centre, but approximately 10% (600 metres) of the course was lost, including the primary feed zone and the first climb. Television setups were also affected since cables were destroyed.
Course designer Martin Whiteley was on hand after the fire, and a new section has been laid out, with a replacement climb and feed zone, which was due to be cut Saturday. However, the course will be shorter than as originally designed, and an extra lap may have to be added.
The big push now is to get the replacement trail cut in time for the final UCI site inspection on Sunday, and for riders' training to start Monday.
Great Britain's Nicole Cooke will spend a few days in Athens as an Olympic spectator, taking a break after the women's road race and time trial events. Cooke, who finished 5th in the road race and 19th in the time trial, confessed on her website how tough it's been to come to terms with defeat.
"It's been hard for me and difficult for people to understand just how disappointed I feel," she wrote on her site (nicolecooke.com). "The knee injury and the operation three months ago just didn't leave enough time. But I've learned a lot about myself and I will learn from this."
For now, a few days rest and a chance to watch Olympic gymnastics, tennis, and even some track cycling are Cooke's primary concern.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2004)