By rights, a weary Jack Bauer should be celebrating his gutsy top-10 finish in the Olympic men's road race in traditional Kiwi fashion. Instead, he will cocoon himself like a hermit in the heaving athletes' village until early Thursday when he intends to back up in the individual time trial.
The 27-year-old from Golden Bay marked his Olympics debut with an excellent 10th in the 250km epic, largely going solo after his more fancied team-mate Greg Henderson retired with a stomach upset about two-thirds of the way through.
Bauer got in the key break at halfway and didn't know Henderson had stopped until he crossed the finish line at The Mall, in a bunch sprint for bronze and just 8sec behind the winner, Alexander Vinokourov of Kazakhstan.
It was New Zealand's best road race performance in recent memory, after Julian Dean finished 15th in Athens in 2004. Yesterday's effort was worth celebrating, but Bauer has more to do.
"I'll just try and stay out of the hustle and bustle of the Olympic village. It's easy to get distracted and lose focus a bit with so much going on so I'll try and stay removed from that as much as possible. Put my feet up, a bit of pedalling over the next few days and hopefully back up [on Thursday]," he said.
Bauer needs a speedy recovery after he rode to a standstill on a warm London Saturday, got dehydrated and started "cramping up pretty bad" in the last 20km.
"I'll give it my best shot [in the time trial]. I'm not going to make any promises. This was a big day and it was always going to take a bit out me. But I'll give it 150 per cent."
Bauer's form for his Garmin-Barracuda team has been strong, notably a stage win in the team time trial in this year's Giro D'Italia.
He was satisfied with his road race effort, which helped foil the much-trumpeted Great Britain challenge from the favourite Mark Cavendish.
Ageless wonder Vinokourov, 39, beat Colombian Rigoberto Uran in the final sprint after the pair burst clear in the final 7km. Norway's Alexander Kristoff claimed the bronze in a bunch of 23 riders including Bauer.
And Bauer got big plaudits from team-mate Henderson.
"Hats off to Jack. We spoke a couple of laps earlier and he said ‘when should I start looking' and I said 'they're going to start attacking soon'. We stuck to our game plan - I'll look after myself for the sprint and he can start going with moves. Perfect, what an amazing ride," Henderson said.
- © Fairfax NZ News