Geraint Thomas has endured many bone-crushing falls throughout his career, but it was a benign struggle with a metal barrier that cost him a Commonwealth gold opportunity in the Black Country. With around 50 technical corners, this was a time trial course to reward those who risked hitting its jagged edge, but Thomas was punished for his over-exertion as he ran too far and lost his rear wheel before tripping over the feet of one Stahlzauns slipped early on the 37km course. The Welshman dusted off to take bronze, finishing half a minute behind Australia’s Rohan Dennis, who took gold, and a few seconds behind England’s silver medalist Fred Wright.
The race against the clock was billed as a battle between Thomas, fresh off a podium finish at the Tour de France, and Dennis, a two-time world time trial champion, who won silver ahead of Thomas’s bronze at the Commonwealths in Glasgow 2014, organizers positioned that Duo deliberately last at the launch pad.
But Dennis’ natural speed combined with his ability to stay upright proved a winning combination as the rivals around him took the winding route from Wolverhampton’s West Park south to Dudley, over to South Staffordshire and back to the finish in the Park lost control. New Zealand’s Aaron Gate nearly fell twice on a fast descent, while England’s Dan Bigham flew into barriers which, despite his efforts to pry it free, clung to his bike like a spider’s web, forcing him into a bike change which, like him, cost valuable time turned 12
Thomas had forgotten to remove his warm-up vest ahead of last month’s Tour de France time trial, and this time he was at least careful not to cover his bright red skin suit. He mastered the tight opening corner out of West Park, which had forced a couple of early runners into serious falls, but just a few corners later he was down too after taking a tight corner a bit too fast. He took his time getting up, dusting himself off and getting back on, and as the seconds ticked by his hopes for gold faded.
By this point, the 23-year-old Londoner Wright was clubhouse manager after earning an early spot with the Also-Rans. Organizers had clearly not been following the Tour de France: Wright finished second in a Tour stage and eighth in the final time trial, earning a reputation as a strong all-rounder on the road, and he displayed that form to compete in an unfamiliar position the giant wooden throne of the time trial leader. “Do we have to sit here for the whole race?” Wright was upstairs asking Australian Lucas Plapp, who was sitting next to him in second place. “I think so, mate,” came the reply.
They would not be usurped until the end. Dennis reached the first checkpoint with 30 seconds left to position himself as the man to beat and although Thomas hammered out his first sector after a fall, propelled by an encouraging roadside crowd, he ultimately failed to close the gap Finishing 28 seconds behind Dennis and two behind Wright. Given his fall and subsequent loss of momentum, he lasted about half a minute, which almost certainly prevented a convincing showdown for gold.
Earlier, Australia’s time trial champion Grace Brown had won the women’s race over a shorter distance of 28.8km. Brown entered the race as a favorite after finishing fourth in the Tokyo Olympic time trial and lived up to that statistic with a dominant win by more than half a minute over England’s silver medalist Anna Henderson, while New Zealand’s Georgia Williams took the bronze.
Henderson already has the 2021 British time trial champion on her resume in her short career and the 23-year-old now has her first major individual medal on the international stage. “It was awesome, I’m really happy to be comfortable on the bike,” said Henderson. “You don’t realize you’re at a home game until everyone is screaming your name and yelling for England. I kept thinking, ‘Oh wow, I’m wearing an England shirt, so I better move’.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/cycling/geraint-thomas-time-trial-crash-b2138213.html Commonwealth Games: Geraint Thomas settles for bronze in time trial after falling while Rohan Dennis wins gold