Fitting end for cyclists as Bauer makes podium

MARK GEENTY IN GLASGOW
Last updated 05:00 05/08/2014
 Jack Bauer
ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ
NICE ONE SON: Jack Bauer shows off Commonwealth silver medal after coming second in the cycling road race.

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Cycling

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Greg Henderson's final act as a Commonwealth Games cyclist was to utter an expletive and hail the New Zealand team's mammoth effort to propel Jack Bauer onto the podium.

The 37-year-old, at his ninth Commonwealth or Olympic Games for New Zealand, marshalled the troops and urged Bauer to the front as he won the silver medal behind the flying Welshman Geraint Thomas. It was New Zealand's second successive road race silver after Hayden Roulston four years ago.

In contrast to the sweltering slog on the Delhi motorways, this was something else as torrential rain poured down and only 12 of the 140 starters completed the twisting, turning 168km course through the city's streets.

"I think everybody was on the limit from the second corner, it was unbelievable. If you got too far back there was a massive accordian effect. I was about 40km in, thinking '130 to go, I'm not going to make it'," Henderson said.

This was in all likelihood Henderson's last Games. His contract with Lotto-Belisol is for another two years but he anticipates a hilly course for the Rio Olympics and with probably two quota spots for New Zealand he expects he won't be required.

He took up the unofficial captaincy at the Glasgow Green start line. The New Zealanders, scattered around their pro teams, rarely get to ride together and the Commonwealth Games is the only event they're guaranteed to have six on the start line on an equal footing with Australia and England.

With Henderson under a fitness cloud after splitting his knee open on the Tour de France, Bauer was the target man.

"I said to Jack with about five laps to go, everyone's on the limit now, let's get Novvie [Shane Archbold] up here to just drill it for a lap and he did. Novvie did an amazing job and everyone was on the friggin' limit and Jack went woof and effectively that was the race. Everyone was in bits and pieces."

They all did their bit for the team; then Mike Northey, Jesse Sergent, Archbold and Tom Scully departed at various stages and left the two senior pros to it.

Bauer, Thomas and England's Scott Thwaites hauled in an audacious break by Isle of Man's Peter Kennaugh after Archbold's big shift, then the trio burst away to fight out the medals.

Thomas is a tough nut and a quality rider and when he put the foot down with 10km remaining it was all over. Bauer knew silver was his best result. Despite his second puncture of the race, with 6km left, Thomas had a 1min 21sec margin over Bauer.

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Munching on a protein bar and sipping a Coke, the Takaka rider said it was as deep as he'd had to dig. That included the Tour de France and his desolation a fortnight ago when hauled in 25m from the first stage win by a New Zealander.

"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."

Bauer isn't known as a sprinter but backed himself when it came down to him and Thwaites, making the final turn into Glasgow Green.

"Scott definitely has the sprint legs over me so I knew I had to put him in front and come off his wheel. I also knew I'd probably have more legs than him coming off the Tour so at the end of such a hard race it can sometimes just come down to brute strength rather than finishing speed."

- Stuff

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