A Wilde race: Lucy Buckingham makes sense of epic CWG opener

Harsh or fair? That Hayden Wilde penalty was top of the list of the talking points from day one in Birmingham

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There was so much to analyse after the individual races on day one of the Commonwealth Games – here’s Lucy Buckingham with her expert verdict on the big talking points in the men’s event:

For me, Hayden Wilde‘s was the performance of the day in the men’s race, won by Alex Yee.  All the more so because he showed such great sportsmanship after he had that penalty.

I think that penalty was very controversial; I’ve looked back at it quite a few times and I know the officials are doing their job and we don’t want anyone to get that unfair advantage. 

But from what I could see, his front wheel on his bike went into the rack and then he unclipped (which is legal and not a violation). From what I could see on the footage, he didn’t unclip the helmet before he racked.

For me, personally, I still think I would have backed Alex to win, but I do think that last 200 metres would have been really exciting. And it just took away from that, a little bit. 

But the way that Hayden handled himself, knowing full well he’d been given a penalty, I just thought it was really mature and really great to see. And yes, the performance of the day.


Swim surprises

Heading back a little bit, the swim start was crazy in both races, though it probably had more of an impact in the women’s.

I was surprised to see Matt Hauser drop back after being right up there for the first five minutes but that was when Tayler Reid came to the front and did a great job of keeping the swim at a high tempo because obviously Henri Schoeman didn’t line up, which changed things a bit.

Dan Dixon had an amazing swim too and stayed with those guys, but then on the bike it was the front three against the chasing pack.

Aligned aims in the chase group

The chase group all had the similar aim of not wanting that top three going too far up the road, which meant they worked well together – at least after a while.

Sam Dickinson obviously did an incredible amount of work, but people were taking turns on the front like Jersey’s Ollie Turner.

Up front Wilde did a lot of time on the front, doing everything he could to make sure that they were going to stay away. Not taking anything away from Reid and Jamie Riddle, but it was Wilde who was doing the most to maintain that gap.

I think it took the chasers a couple of laps, but they did start working better towards the end and that’s when we saw the time gap come down a little bit more. It was a bit of a classic situation but Dixon and Dickinson did a really great job on the bike to get that time gap down to 15 seconds at T2. 

Yee floats to the front

The run was super hilly and I guess historically in World Series and at Olympic Games, you don’t have hilly run courses. It’s usually the bike course that’s the hillier terrain. So I actually think that played into Alex’s hands a lot more because he just floats up them. 

But you can never take it away from Alex. He kept his cool and he just ran away with it. 

There’s a great thing going on with Hayden and Alex. They genuinely have a good relationship with each other. It’s like they can get to a start line and race their hearts out and then cross the line and be really respectful of one another and actually be like friends in a way. 

And I think that’s great that we can do that in this sport. It takes a lot for an athlete to be able to do that. So it just shows how impressive they are.

You look today at the BBC tweeting that fist bump between the pair – it’s so good for our sport to go to a wider audience, it really gets it out there and looks so good.

Hats off to Hauser

We also saw Hauser be really smart as well. He knew that the English were going to chase down Hayden, Reid and Riddle and he just kept out of trouble in the chase pack, but also making sure that he was saving his legs for the run. 

He’s been running super well in training recently and he’s got some great training partners, so I think he just played it really smart.

Nice problem to have

Looking ahead to the relay on Sunday, Team England have two strong options to put alongside Alex on the men’s side. It’s a tough choice but in my humble opinion, I do feel maybe it could be Dan Dixon. He has a very strong swim on him. He obviously rides very well and his running is forever improving. So I do think he’d make a really nice addition to a very strong relay. 

Having said that, Sam’s proven that he’s got a really good leg on him in terms of the relay as we saw that in Hamburg and I think he could also do a really great job so it’s a nice problem to have for Team England.

The bottom line is Dan and Sam showed incredible maturity to do everything they could to help Alex win gold on day one and it was obvious they were both super happy when they crossed the line.

Lucy Buckingham
Written by
Lucy Buckingham


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