James Cracknell has defended Rebecca Romero after the Olympic individual pursuit champion’s knee injuries led to the pair abandoning their Land’s End to John O’Groats tandem attempt after 29 hours.
“I’ve seen a few things on the web that have been a little nasty,” Cracknell told BikeRadar. “I really don’t want Rebecca to get a hard time. You just can’t mitigate for injury and Rebecca is an elite athlete – it’s her career so she simply had to stop.”
According to Cracknell, Romero had noticed some soreness in her knees early into the ride. “As we got further they started to swell up,” he said. “When we got into Scotland the doctors had another look and quite rightly decided that Becks should stop.”
The decision to stop came on Wednesday at Johnstonebridge in Dumfries after the pair had completed 29 hours in the saddle and covered more than 500 miles.
“Obviously we were both incredibly disappointed,” said Cracknell. “It was going really well and both of us felt really good mentally. Rebecca wanted to carry on despite the pain but her career is much more important. I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself if we’d pushed on and she’d suffered serious damage. Olympic gold medals are more important.
“It’s quite a weird feeling. I don’t feel as if we failed, more that we didn’t achieve our goal. It’s really unfinished business.”
The pair had been aiming to better the time of two days, three hours, 19 minutes and 23 seconds set by Andy Wilkinson and Lynne Taylor in 2000.
“We were ahead of our own schedule and about 14 miles behind Andy and Lynne but pretty confident that we could still do it," said Cracknell. "We deliberately went much slower than them in our first three hours but we knew that after the point at which we eventually pulled out, Andy and Lynne had a one-and-a-half hour stop, and that wasn’t in our plan so we could have made up the time.”
Despite his disappointment over the negative comments, Cracknell said the support the pair received on the route was entirely positive. “We couldn’t believe how many people came out to see us,” he said. “It was a massive boost and a welcome surprise. Apologies to any one who missed us or was going to come and see us later!”
Cracknell admitted he would like to try again and hinted that he may finish the route himself. He said the roadside support had strengthened his resolve to make a success of the Ride Across Britain, the mass-participation End-to-End the record attempt was being used to publicise. Find out more at www.rideacrossbritain.com.