There were contrasting fortunes for two English cyclists in the women’s time trial at the Commonwealth Games – joy for bronze medalist Hayley Simmonds, but despair for Melissa Lowther.
Simmonds, who took up the sport to get in shape and shed nearly half her body weight, won time trial bronze on Tuesday.
A tearful Simmonds was overcome with emotion at the finish line and looked stunned when she placed third in the same event compatriot Lowther was due to race in – but an administrative error meant she could not be registered in time.
Simmonds’ triumph is the result of years of vigorous training which saw her drop 45 kilos (100 pounds).
“I showed Julian (Julian Winn, her coach) a picture of me from 2011 and he didn’t believe it was me, I lost like 45kg,” the 29-year-old said.
“As soon as I started doing time trials my competitive nature took over, it’s been hard.”
Simmonds, who now weighs 55kg, describes baking as one of her hobbies. “There have been times I’ve wanted to go and eat a big cake,” she said.
Simmonds, who did a PhD in chemistry at the University of Cambridge, will also go in the women’s road race on Saturday, the penultimate day of the Games.
Lowther, meanwhile, said she was “gutted” after her Commonwealth Games dreams were shattered because team officials failed to register her for the race.
Lowther was forced out of the individual time trial after an administrative blunder meant she was not formally entered into the event on Australia’s Gold Coast.
“I can’t put into words how disappointed I am to have been missed off the start list due to an admin error,” the 21-year-old wrote on Instagram.
“It was one of my targets this season to make selection for the time-trial event and I was so proud that my hard work in training had paid off.
“While Team England have apologised, I’m still gutted not to have the opportunity to represent my country after all the hard miles I’ve put in.”
Lowther will still compete in the women’s road race on Saturday, the penultimate day of the Games.
Team England chef de mission Sarah Winckless said a last-ditch appeal to include Lowther in Tuesday’s event had failed.
“I have spoken to Melissa to offer my sincere apologies to her, her coaches and to British Cycling,” Winckless said.
“Melissa has trained hard for and focused on this race and it should never be the case that an error on our part prevents an athlete from showing what she can do.
“We appealed to the Commonwealth Games Federation to allow Melissa into the race, but it was not possible at such short notice.
“Team England will be conducting a review to understand how the situation has arisen and how it can be prevented from happening again.”
Lowther is not the first participant at the Games to fall victim to a paperwork blunder.
India’s weightlifters are having to treat one another’s aches and pains because the required documents for their physio’s accreditation were not submitted in time.
Aakrant Saxena flew to the Gold Coast with the Indian team but was refused entry to the athletes’ village and training and competition venues.
A New Zealand athlete who won two Olympic gold medals in a glittering rowing career grabbed Commonwealth Games bronze in cycling on Tuesday, less than two years after switching sports.
Hamish Bond, who formed one of the great rowing partnerships with Eric Murray, was just over two seconds off the silver medal in the time trial – but was still kicking himself for not going faster.
“Now I look back at all the margins and think, ‘What if?’, but from now I just reassess what more I can do and where to next,” he said.
“I’m pleased with my execution. There are still things I could improve on. I’ll discuss this with the people who have helped me along the way.”
Despite his slight frustration, it remained a phenomenal achievement for Bond, 32, who has already won the highest accolades rowing has to offer.
Bond and Murray won Olympic gold in the coxless pairs in London 2012 and Rio 2016, and from 2009 to 2013 they went five years unbeaten.
“Life’s about taking on challenges. You don’t know what you’ve got until you get out there,” said Bond, when asked about his decision to take up cycling.
“I think I’m in a pretty good place but there’s always things you can do better.”
Australia’s Cameron Meyer took gold and silver went to English rider Harry Tanfield, whose brother Charlie won pursuit gold and silver during the track cycling competition.
The Tanfields have emerged from the amateur ranks after self-funding their rise in the sport, and Harry, 23, only applied to take part in the Commonwealth Games in January, according to reports.
UAE Team Emirates’ Marco Marcato achieved a season-best performance in the cobble classics after finishing 18th at Paris Roubaix on Sunday.
It was a formidable result for the Italian having improved on his 49th-place showing at the Tour of Flanders last week.
World champion Peter Sagan left his rivals in the dust after a break from 55km out saw him clinch a first victory in northern France.
The 28-year-old Slovak outsprinted Silvan Dillier, the last survivor from an earlier break, in the velodrome in Roubaix after 5hrs 54mins 06sec in the saddle.
It was a commendable performance nonetheless from Marcato, who said: “I like this race and I had enthusiasm, and the right strength to confront the race from the start to the end.
“I was able to stay with the front riders even when the best riders were attacking on the Mons en Pévèle sector. Maybe I paid a little bit from the effort I made catching the group after I had punctured.”
It was also a positive day for his UAE team-mate Sven Erik Bystrom who completed the 257km course in 26th place – ahead of Yves Lampaert, Arnaud Demare and Tony Martin.
The Norwegian said: “To be in the main escape in my first ride in Paris-Roubaix was a fantastic experience, also considering to make that move we spent a lot of energy in the first hour of the race.
“On the pavé, I had good feelings. I don’t know at this point, based on this ride, if I can come back and build a future in this big and important race.”
Meanwhile, team leader Alexander Kristoff had to settle for 57th place, after being caught in a crash with 40 kilometres remaining.
The reigning European champion, who finished in the top-10 in 2013 and 2015, said: “My Paris-Roubaix unfortunately ended when Tony Martin crashed in the middle of the group and I finished on the ground.
“Going at 60km an hour, I hit my back hard on the ground and I waited a few minutes for the pain to pass. I was able get going, though, and make it to the finish, but the top riders were already far off.”