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Mark Cavendish, gold, 20km scratch race, 2006

Mark Cavendish

Lapping it up: Cav salutes the crowd after his famous sprint won him a gold medal

Mark Cavendish struck gold for the Isle of Man with a sensational sprint finish in the men’s 20km scratch race.

The 20-year-old Manxman, the current world Madison champion, demonstrated his awesome finishing power to snatch first place on the track in front of Australian Ashley Hutchinson.

Cav launched his final-lap bid for glory amid a deafening roar from the sell-out crowd at the Melbourne Park velodrome. He flashed past Hutchinson and maintained a gap of a few inches to lunge for the line in first place.

The number one appeared on the scoreboard alongside Cav’s name and the arena erupted into wild cheers. There were jubilant scenes as the small Manx contingent in the crowd celebrated the Isle of Man’s first Commonwealth Games gold medal for 20 years.

And the tears were in full flow as the national flag was hoisted above those of Australia and Scotland. The last Manxman to stand on top of the podium was Nigel Kelly after his shooting success in Edinburgh in 1986.

And Cav’s amazing glory ride was the Island’s first cycling gold medal since Peter Buckley led home the road race in Jamaica in 1966.

It was simply breathtaking stuff.

The only person able to take everything in his stride was Cavendish himself. ‘I have been expecting this for almost a year now. I was that confident,’ said Cav immediately after having the coveted gold medal placed around his neck.

‘I see myself as one of the best scratch riders in the world and especially at the Commonwealth Games as the top European riders are not here.

‘I knew I was going to be in with a good chance and it was brilliant to stand on top of the podium and watch the Manx flag being raised. I think everybody in the Isle of Man has been behind me and I’m glad I’ve won the gold medal for them.’

Cavendish got his tactics absolutely spot-on and always looked in control throughout the race. Despite lining up alongside the best riders from Australia, New Zealand and the home nations, the young Manxman was never troubled.

He was among an early five-man break comprising Ashley Hutchinson (Australia), bronze winner James McCallum (Scotland), Timothy Gudsell (New Zealand) and Zack Bell (Canada).

They took a lap out of the rest of the field and – crucially – Ben Kersten, a top-ranked Australian sprinter who had already scooped gold in the 1000m time trial, was not part of the move.

Cav said: ‘With Kersten in the field I knew if it came down to a sprint finish it was always going to be tough for me. I knew there had to be a lap taken and I knew I was always going to be in that break no matter what.’

Once established the break was established, each of the five countries represented was keen to ensure that no one else had the opportunity to gain a lap and the race settled down to a comparatively steady state.

Mark Cavendish gold medal
Gold standard: Mark Cavendish savours winning the 20km scratch race

Greg Henderson and Hayden Godfrey, both NZ, went to the front of the race with five laps to travel, trying to set up their teammate for the win, while the Australian pair of Sean Finning and Ben Kersten tried to do the same for Hutchinson.

However, neither team was prepared for the unexpected lead out Cavendish got in the final two laps from Team England rider Rob Hayles, his Great Britain partner in the World Championship Madison victory, and although Hutchinson had the winner's wheel, he didn't have the speed to pull off the win in the race to the line.

Cav was well supported by team-mates Jonny Bellis and Mark Kelly who finished an excellent sixth and eighth respectively – a remarkable result for the Island.

Cav said: ‘I saw the Aussie [Hutchinson] coming but I was cruising in the final 200 metres. I’d like to thank the people of the Isle of Man for all their support. I hope everybody was watching on television back at home.’

Cav grabbed a Manx flag from the trackside and rode with it above his head on a lap of honour. He was mobbed by jubilant team-mates and there was hardly a dry eye when he stepped on top of the podium to accept his gold medal.

It was certainly a proud day to be a Manxman in Melbourne.

Tim Kneale, bronze, double trap individual, 2010

Tim Kneale

Three legs legend: Tim Kneale added Commonwealth glory to his growing list of international honours

Tim Kneale was in impressive form going into the Games in Delhi.

In what he says was probably his best year to date, Tim, an agricultural consultant after switching from working at a shooting club, had equalled the world record for double trap with 147/150 in Lonato, Italy, and shot best of the British team in taking bronze behind Russia and America at the World Championships in Munich in early August.

After missing out on the Manchester Games by just one target, Tim was, however, selected for GB juniors and won a team bronze in Finland. He moved to the senior GB squad in 2004/05 and began shooting at World Cups, European and World Championships, picking up silver and bronze medals along the way.

Ranked GB number one several times, Tim focused on shooting after breaking a leg playing rugby, earning a few bob ‘trapping’ at the Ayres Club before having a go himself.

A lowly tenth in Melbourne in 2006 (‘my final year at uni, so there was a lot going on’) 2009 had seen him return to Australia where he finished top of their rankings.

With that crucial groundwork behind him, Tim and the team had good reason to believe a medal was on in Delhi. At the World Championships, and having been selected ahead of former Olympic champion Richard Faulds, Tim narrowly missed out on a top placing by just one point.

He did not disappoint in Delhi, finding that something to eat and drink and a quiet corner where he finished a book he had been reading, helped kill the long wait between shoots to complete a memorable day.

Having warmed up with a fifth place 24 hours earlier in the pairs event with Jake Keeling, Kneale powered his way to third place at the end of 150 clays, having carded an excellent 140 ex 150.

England’s Stevan Walton, who had claimed the pairs title with compatriot Steven Scott, led the way on 143 with Australia’s Mark Russell showing well just one point in arrears while the two Indians, Ronjan Sodhi and Asher Noria, pairs silver medalists, were just a point behind Kneale.

Walton dominated the six-man final, shooting 47 to secure the gold and a Games record 190 points with Sodhi and Noria both netting 47 for an aggregate 186 while Kneale was just one clay shy of them for the same overall score. Australia’s Russell was the big loser, missing nine targets.

Kneale now found himself in a three-way scrap for the silver medal.

What drama on an intolerably hot and airless day.

With 10 sets of clays offered up and sudden death, Tim was first to go. He faltered at the eighth pair, missing one and it was then between the Indians for the silver medal. If they both claimed a brace, Kneale would be fourth.

Sodhi got his pair and the Manx supporters drew their collective breath as Noria stepped up to the mark and then missed too.

The tension continued as Kneale faced Noria, but the Manxman kept his cool and got both the fifth pair with Noria missing one.

Tim summed up the moment: ‘It was a tense day, a tough day, but a rewarding day. I was surprised to finish the 150 in third place, but that gave me a start in the final on peg four, my favourite, so that was great.

A fellow teamster witnessed the drama. ‘The atmosphere was electric. Every time Tim stepped up to shoot, we all held our breath and when he hit a pair we collectively sighed with relief. The Manx supporters were grouped together and when Noria missed, we made a lot of noise.’

Mark Christian
Manx and proud: Mark Christian adds to the IoM’s medal total with a bronze in the Points race in Delhi
Cycling celebration (left to right): Chris Whorrall, Isla Scott, Mark Christian and Gary Hinds

Mark Christian, bronze, 40km points, 2010

With stars such as triple world champion Cameron Myer of Australia in the field – he would take three golds during the Games – the Island’s hopes in the 40km (25-mile) points race on the track rested on the shoulders of young hopefuls Mark Christian and Chris Whorrall.

Both had been schooled by British Cycling and had extensive grooming on both road and track, the question was whether they could dent the Aussie domination.

Christian, 20, had been selected for Great Britain in February 2009 for the World Cup in Copenhagen and later that month he picked up the British Madison title in Manchester, alongside fellow Manxman Peter Kennaugh, his non-travelling team-mate.

In July of the same year he won silver in the under-23 team pursuit and bronze in the under-23 points race at the European track championships in Belarus. He progressed to the Great Britain Under 23 Academy, again racing on both road and track, winning medals at national and European level, as well as a medal in the team pursuit at World Cup level.

Christian was confident but not cocky, and in the end he delivered a bronze medal with the not inconsiderable assistance of Whorrall.

While Myer was invincible, taking the gold in dominant fashion with a whopping 89 points, Christian made his mark by getting into the decisive six-man move of the event, run off at 30mph.

With the comparative comfort of being a lap ahead of the main field, the Meyer-inspired breakaway was almost destined to succeed – and it did, with Myer so forceful that in the end he and England’s George Atkins lapped the field a second time.

Holding second place with 20 points to his credit after the initial lap gain with the others, Christian was aided and abetted by Whorrall, 19, who helped pace and organise his colleague whenever he could.

With 5-3-2-1 points on offer every 10 laps of the 160-lap race, the pace and positioning was always frenetic and Christian, who had slipped a place to third, saw his hopes dented with 10 laps to go, when Welsh rival and friend Sam Harrison manage to draw level on points after winning the sprint for five points with Christian taking two less in third place.

With eight 250m-laps remaining, Whorrall came to his compatriot’s aid and the pair gave it 100 per cent in trying to thwart the Welshman, the battle culminating in a dramatic final lap with Whorrall leading out Christian in never-say-die fashion to edge out Harrison.

Christian gave full credit to Meyer for his win: ‘I always believed Meyer would "walk away" with the gold.’

Manx cycling manager Gary Hinds was a bundle of nerves as the laps counted down said: ‘I was really flapping after Harrison had levelled the points score with Mark. I knew that Mark had to cover every move the Welsh rider made and that Chris had to stay at the front to help him, but it’s hard to tell them that when they’re flashing past at 30mph! Even when he crossed the line I was half jumping for joy and half worried he’d lose on some mad form of a countback.’

Red flag
Seeing red: Mark Christian was disqualified in the 40km Points race for illegally assisting Peter Kennaugh (immediately behind him)

Peter Kennaugh, silver, 40km points race, 2014

Shane Archibold

No you don’t: Shane Archibold of New Zealand stretches out an arm to try and prevent Joe Kelly, with Peter Kennaugh in tow, from passing beneath him

Peter Kennaugh, his professional team’s hope of Tour de France glory in the years to come, delivered the Island’s 11th Commonwealth Games medal - a silver - in the 40km points race.

The Team Sky rider, 25, bore the mantle of being a favourite well, bearing in mind he had just won the arduous hors category, eight-stage Tour of Austria – 1216 kilometres in length with more than 14,000 metres of climbing.

After finishing the race on July 13, Peter headed to his home in Nice and had barely a fortnight to recover and find his track legs.

Peter, who had declined to compete in Delhi four years earlier, was armed with two excellent team-mates – Mark Christian, winner of the bronze this event in 2010 and capable of becoming the first Manxman to win two medals – and Joe Kelly, another young and versatile prospect.

New Zealand were to provide the most serious threat to the Manx ambitions and their team work, coupled with the mid-race disqualification of both Christian and Kelly for technical offences, ultimately left Kennaugh in a Kiwi sandwich after 160 laps of the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

But what a fight he put up.

The complexity of the event involving 12 points-scoring sprints (5-3-2-1) and with lap gains earning 20 points, was compounded by technical problems, the lap-scoring equipment often displaying inaccurate information that left competitors, helpers, a packed stadium, television viewers and commentators confused.

The critical point in the race came when Kennaugh and Christian managed to gain an all-important one lap advantage to move into joint third overall on 44 points with 90 laps remaining. Out in front with them were New Zealanders Tom Scully, who had been an apprentice with big American team Garmin Sharp, on 56, and World Omnium champion Aaron Gate on 53. Also in contention was Welsh starlet Owain Doull.

Shortly afterwards, Kelly was in trouble several times with the referees for dropping off the back of the peloton and assisting Kennaugh, and he was eventually disqualified.

Kennaugh, thwarted by NZ’s tactics when it came to overtaking them, was also warned for passing underneath riders on the blue strip of track - often referred to as the Cote d'Azur - and the Manx riders were certainly not in the good books with the race referee as Christian, who had lost a lap to his companions, was given his marching orders shortly afterwards for colluding with Kennaugh. He was fourth at the time, with Kennaugh third.

Despite this, it still looked possible that Kennaugh could take the gold. He scored well in all of the second-half sprints and pulled points back on Scully, with Gate out of the top-four on each.

But Scully and Gate had the benefit of team-mate Steve Archibold, another top professional with the legendary Sean Kelly’s team, An Post, a real powerhouse who won the 20km scratch race next day, and the numerical advantage ultimately proved too strong for the tiring Kennaugh, his plight having worsened when Owain Doull of Wales and Remi Pelletier of Canada took advantage of the situation and won a sprint each while Archibold took the final one, a double pointer.

In the end Scully (98 pts) had a 14-point advantage on the Manxman while bronze medal winner Gate (82) and Doull (75) in fourth were the only other riders in contention.

Peter Kennaugh
All blacks: (left to right) Peter Kennaugh took the silver medal after a tussle with Tom Scully of New Zealand, the winner, and team-mate Aaron Gate who was third
Did the IoM flaunt rules?

A contributor to a cycling forum had this view of the goings on . . .

‘Having just watched it back (a replay of the race) after initially saying at the time of the live race that all of the Isle of Man team should have been DQ'd, I now stand by that. They made a mockery of the race and flaunted the rules a number of times.

‘Firstly Joseph Kelly dropped off the back of the bunch with 86 laps to go, Pete Kennaugh attacked off the front and Joseph swung back on in front of Pete and started hammering on the pace.

‘That invokes two UCI rules.

‘3.2.124 A rider having dropped behind the bunch and having been caught up may not lead, under penalty of disqualification.

‘3.2.128 In the event of collusion between riders, the judge-referee may disqualify the riders concerned, possibly after a warning.

‘So he was given a yellow flag. After that, you get the NZ rider sticking his hand into the face of Kelly while calling for the commissaries to do something about it.

‘With 55 laps to go, they employed the same tactic, Kelly dropped off the back of the bunch, as soon as Pete was on his wheel, he nailed it and this time, got red flagged and thrown out of the race.

‘With 24 laps to go, Mark Christian this time took the same tactic, dropped off the back, looked for Pete, got Pete on his wheel and went full gas. Going through a yellow flag with 23 laps to go, instead of heeding that warning, he carried on at full gas and as he came through with 22 laps to go, was given a red flag and pulled from the race.’

‘To do it for the Isle of Man is incredible’

Peter Kennuagh’s point of view: ‘It's pretty special. To do it for the Isle of Man is incredible. It probably means more to some of the “staff” than it does to me because they are so passionately Manxmen. I'm happy to do it for them just to see the smiles on their faces.

'I've got to be happy with that considering I only had three days preparation on the track.

'I only returned from Austria where I was racing 200km days on the road, and the track is so different - more intense and fast, it's another ball game.

'A lot of people could crack under the pressure and I had a lot of expectation from the team coming in here but at the end of the day I can't grumble can I?

'If that had been man on man it could've been a different outcome. It was just so difficult with the team side of things, but that's the way it is I suppose.

'The support out there was great. I wouldn't say I was the underdog but when I was out there and I had my work cut out for me, I could sense the crowd were trying to get behind me when I was attacking a lot.

'A lot of the crowd probably support me on the road with Team Sky as well so that reception on the podium was tremendous. It was a really nice feeling.

'I might go and have a beer now. I'm going to go home, chill out, have a good bit of grub at Bath & Bottle and a cocktail - just switch off a bit and really rest the mind. All the work's done now so it's just about getting refreshed and I might go out for a long 200km ride just to open the legs back up and get the feeling back on the road.

‘Get behind my dad on the motorbike up at Jurby and just get back to what I know and hopefully come in with good legs and see what I can do in the road race.

'I'm really motivated for the road race, that's really where my passion lies so I'll give it everything.

‘Those boys were hitting him hard’

The Manx frustrations were clearly evident during the post race debrief.

After making his Commonwealth Games debut, Joe Kelly later admitted that he was disappointed.
'It would've been nice to finish the race and be at the end to help out. There were a few funny decisions but there's not much you can do about that,' he said.

'Early on I got two warnings when I hadn't actually lost a lap. I was still on the same lap as the group so I could attack and go off the front with a team-mate, but they were yellow-flagging me, which we don't understand.

'The third time, when it would have been a disqualification, was fair enough because I'd lost a lap but I only should have got a warning then, not a disqualification. So it annoys me that I was disqualified when I really shouldn't have been. And the scoreboard was all over the show.

'Pete should be pleased with that ride, especially considering he was up there by himself at the end. That's tough going, those boys were hitting him hard.

'There was a bit of confusion with the scoreboard. It had Pete leading at one point and they took a lap off him for some reason. I'm not sure why.'

‘Scoreboard out of touch with reality’

Isle of Man track manager Gary Hinds, was unhappy that all three Manx riders were warned for alleged infringements.

‘The scoreboard was so out of touch with reality. It was running a whole sprint behind and they were adding people back in to the race. Peter had two warnings for passing underneath riders on the blue part of the track.

‘The three Kiwis were tactically doing the same thing. The one on the front would slow down and another would come over the top on the front and Peter was left with nowhere to go but underneath him.

‘I brought this to the attention of the commissaires (referees) who apologised and said they would look at it next time.

‘It’s born through frustration really. Peter’s such a fantastic rider and he was here to win this. He’ll be absolutely gutted with silver.’