So Cav and Swifty fancy some omnium action at the Olympics. That can only be good news for GB, but of course only one of them can get the spot, and it’s by no means a two-man race.
In an ideal scenario we might see a full-fledged British omnium championships to decide the GB representative. That’s not likely to happen, but it doesn’t stop us from speculating. If all the main British contenders were to face off, who would be crowned Britain’s top all-rounder and clinch the seat on the plane for Rio?
In addition to Cav and Swift, we have chosen eight other contenders – the seven current members of the pursuit squad plus Simon Yates, a world champ on the track and presumably a contender for the omnium if he were to break from his road agenda.
Event by Event
We assume the six events are contested over two days and points are awarded on the basis of 40 for a win, 36 for second down to 4 for 10th, except for the points race, where points accumulate within the race itself. The reason for the 40 points for the winner is to allow for the small field size. With only 10 or 20 for a win, the points race – where you can gain 20 points just for taking a lap – would take on disproportionate importance. It’s not a perfect impersonation of an Olympic or Worlds, but it’s close enough.
The bunch races are hard to predict because there are no times to draw upon and they are by their very nature unpredictable. There are enough scratch races, however, to give us some indication. What we know is that Cavendish won this event at the Commonwealth Games back in 2006 and is well suited to the discipline. At this year’s Commonwealth Games, Mark Christian was the highest finishing Brit after Andy Tennant had won his heat. Burke and Christian were the only two of our field to feature in the event at the National champs this year, finishing 4th and 8th respectively. Sam Harrison was British champ in 2013, ahead of Clancy and Burke, while in 2012, Dibben took silver with Harrison in 4th, Yates in 6th and Doull in 9th. Swift, of course is a former World Champ and is the best of the rest in a road sprint behind Cav.
1. Cavendish; 2. Swift; 3. Harrison; 4. Clancy; 5. Burke; 6. Christian; 7. Dibben; 8. Tennant; 9. Yates; 10. Doull
So here was can draw on data, though not all the riders have ridden competitive pursuits and there’s always variances caused by track and form. Of our contenders, Clancy is the fastest on paper with a 4:19, but that time is 6 years old. Burke has a 4:20 while British champ Tennant has a 4:21 along with Doull. Dibben has gone 4:25, Christian 4:27 and Harrison and Swift 4:28. Yates last rode the event 3 years ago and posted a 4:32. We can’t find a time for Cavendish though supposedly he was in the low 4:20s when trying out for a solo spot alongside Brad Wiggins for the 2008 Olympics. The spot eventually went to Steve Burke. We’re assuming a high 4:20s here.
Based on capabilities in 2014, we think it would shake out a little like this:
1. Tennant; 2. Burke; 3. Doull; 4. Dibben; 5. Clancy; 6. Christian; 7. Harrison; 8. Cavendish; 9. Swift; 10. Yates
This event is the most difficult to forecast given that it is rarely contested. At the recent Revolution, Tennant was victorious with Burke in 11th, Swift 15th and Harrison 23rd and last. Dibben was 19th of 20 at the recent World Cup, while Clancy has typically been a little above average in his international omnium experience. Generally, the event favors riders with strength, speed and tactical nous.
1. Yates; 2. Doull; 3. Tennant; 4. Cavendish; 5. Swift; 6. Burke; 7. Clancy; 8. Dibben; 9. Christian; 10.Harrison
First Day Leaderboard
1. Tennant 84 pts
2= Cavendish & Burke 80
4. Doull 72
5=Swift & Clancy 68
7= Harrison & Yates 52
9. Christian 48
10. Dibben 46
Back to empirical data, though Cyclostats has tended to record 200 rather than 250 times. Not everyone has posted times in recent years but here’s what we have. Clancy is clearly number one, a sub-10 rider at his best (and at altitude). Dibben is next fastest on paper at 10.463 but adjusted for altitude, that’s about a 10.75. Burke is at 10.665, Harrison has a 13.444 250 which is 10.75-pace. Swift has a 10.925 from 2011 and Tennant a 10.936 from earlier this year. Yates failed to crack 11 when he competed in the omnium. We can’t find times of note for Doull or Christian. Cavendish hasn’t raced this event since his junior days when has was at 11.387, which we should not led the qualifiers at the national Juniors, besting the likes of Matt Crampton. Clearly he’d be faster today.
1. Clancy; 2. Burke; 3. Cavendish; 4. Dibben; 5. Harrison; 6. Swift; 7. Tennant; 8. Doull; 9. Yates; 10. Christian
This event provides the most solid data from which to guestimate results. Clancy is again tops, 4th fastest Brit of all-time and Burke is out on his own in second as a consistent mid-62 second man. Dibben is GB junior record hold and has come close to 63 at altitude, while Harrison has also cracked 1:04 – on two occasions. Tennant has a 1:04.7, Swift a 1:05.180 and Yates a 1:06.6 from 2011. None of the others have posted the sub 67 it takes to make Cyclostats’ long list but Cav did a 68 as a junior.
1. Clancy; 2. Burke; 3. Dibben; 4. Harrison; 5. Tennant; 6. Cavendish; 7. Swift; 8.Yates; 9. Doull; 10. Christian
Standings after 5 events
1. Burke 152
2. Clancy 148
3. Cavendish 132
4. Tennant 124
5. Dibben 106
6. Harrison & Swift 104
8. Doull 92
9. Yates 72
10. Christian 56
This is virtually impossible to predict without laying out an entire theoretical race. An actual race at the end of an omnium would also likely be quite tactical. To an extent, that’s besides the point. The actual field against whoever GB eventually choose races will of course be entirely different, so what really matters is the relative strength of each of our contender. The best we can do is look at the evidence and hazard a guess at the points differentials the strongest points racers might be expected to put up against those weaker competitors.
Yates as a former World Champ must get most credit here. Swift has a World champs silver to his credit and was second in the event at the recent Revolution, with Tennant 6th and Burke 9th. Doull was 4th at the Commonwealths where Christian was DQd having come second in his heat. Christian won bronze in 2010, one spot ahead of Harrison who was also DQd in Glasgow. Christian took silver at the nationals, but was the only one of our field to compete. Clancy won the 2013 Nationals from Harrison with Burke in 13th.
Clancy was also national junior champ back in 2003 beating the likes of Geraint Thomas, Swift and Cavendish who has rarely been as strong in this event as in the scratch. Doull is another former National junior champ, from 2012, when he beat Dibben.
So where does that all put us? We think Yates would win and perhaps take a couple of laps, ending with say 60 points. Swift and Christian might also take a lap, along with Harrison and end with around 40-45 points apiece. Clancy would ride defensively and pick up points in the early sprints, finishing with may be 15, just behind Cav’s total of 25. Doull would up some sprints, too, along with Doull but Burke would be exposed and lose a lap, finishing with a negative 10 balance.
1. Clancy 163
2. Cavendish 159
3. Swift 149
4. Burke 142
5. Harrison 139
6. Tennant 136
7. Yates 132
8. Dibben 120
9. Doull 110
10. Christian 96
The results are of course, very hypothetical, and as with a real omnium, subject to the chance that is involved, especially in bunch races. In our scenario, Clancy comes out on top. and for the same reason he has been GB’s pick when push has come to shove. If you can dominate the timed events, the rest can take of itself. In second place we have Cavendish who would look threatening if he can show he can convert road speed to the flying lap and kilo. Assuming he can get to 10.6 for the flying 200 and 1:04 for the kilo, he might well yet turnout to be the best bet for Britain in Rio.