Silver medal for Golden Bay's Bauer
'That's the deepest I've ever dug'MARK GEENTY IN GLASGOW
Jack Bauer thought it couldn't get any tougher than slogging through a Tour de France.
That was until the Golden Bay cyclist won the Commonwealth Games road race silver medal in atrocious conditions with a gut-busting ride which is fast becoming his trademark.
Bauer won New Zealand's 45th and final medal of these Games, pipping England's Scott Thwaites in a desperate final lunge for silver after 168km of twists, turns and torrential downpours on the 12-lap street circuit.
Fellow Tour rider Geraint Thomas of Wales burst clear of the three-man lead group with 10km left to win gold by 1min 21sec, even after puncturing with 6km and getting a desperate repair job.
"I came out of the Tour a week ago and at the time I would have said that's the deepest I've ever dug in my career to get to the end but there were moments today in the final 50km where I really had to repeat that effort," Bauer said.
"I had to give all for that result today but I was always going to. With the support of the five boys behind me I couldn't do anything else. I had to back it up and come away with a medal of some description, so silver is great, it's a proud moment."
Carnage was predicted and so it proved on the treacherous course. Just 12 of the 140-strong field crossed the line in Glasgow Green, soaked, grimy and cold.
New Zealand's Greg Henderson was one of them, 5min 15sec behind Thomas' time of 4hrs 13min 5sec, while pre-race favourite Mark Renshaw (Australia) and local hero David Millar were among others to crawl across the line.
Time trial silver medallist Rohan Dennis of Australia was an early casualty, crashing on the paved streets and emerging with a gashed and bloodied elbow.
No other New Zealanders finished but they all toiled hard to get Bauer to the front in a fine team performance. The crucial period was when track gold medallist Shane Archbold surged forward to drag the peloton up to Isle of Man's Peter Kennaugh who led by close to 2min.
With a tick under 50km left, Bauer attacked and with Thomas and Thwaites gathered Kennaugh in and went for home.
"When I attacked of course gold was the always the goal but when I was joined by Thomas, he's one of the classiest riders in the world, really versatile and good in all weather and he's just come off the Tour as well so I knew he'd be a hard man to beat and that silver was probably going to be as good as I'd get," Bauer said.
"I gave it a crack but when he attacked in the final stages I had no legs to follow him and had to do what I could to try and sew up a silver medal."
Bauer played it calm, tucked in behind the little-known Thwaites then came off his wheel to lunge and grab silver, with stronger legs after his Tour exertions.
Just a fortnight ago Bauer was inconsolable after his big break on stage 15 of the Tour was swallowed up in the final 25m, denying him the first stage win by a New Zealander. He had led the race for 222km from the starter's gun.
This was a consolation of sorts.
"Yeah of course it's nice to get a result. Professional cycling is what I do to get paid, it's my day job.
"You also need to win at that level. But this is national pride and being part of a Kiwi team riding with the five boys out there, it's definitely one of the proudest moments of my life to have them back me up and give all they had, especially Shane Archbold in the middle of the race. I really can't thank them enough."