Men’s Olympic Road Race Preview

Friday, 5 August 2016

The Olympics come to town and what better way to show off Rio de Janeiro than a bike race under the gaze of the Cristo Redentor statue, past the Copacabana beach and a coastal run that includes cobbles, climbs through the jungle and some tense descents. It’s a fine route and add to this a stellar starting list, small teams to make the race uncontrollable and it makes for a mouthwatering weekend of racing.

The course: 237.5km. The race starts by the Copacabana fort and then heads west along the coast via Ipanema and Barra da Tijuca until they reach the Grumari circuit after 37km

Here they begin four 27.4km loops with two identified hills, Grumari and Grota Funda but note the other bumps along the coast at the start of the circuit, they kick up too. Part of the coastal road is cobbled too, it’s more a beach access road than a highway, sections have been tarmacked recently for the TT but this is already a place to string out the field and see some unlucky riders puncture.

The Grumari climb takes them away from the coast up to a lookout point with sea views. It snakes up a narrow road amid tropical woodland with some tight bends and some steep sections. The graphic above claims 24.1% but that’s hard to find but if it’s 12-14% that’s plenty. The descent is steeper and twistier before picking up a wider road.

The second Grota Funda is up the Avenue das Americas, listed as 2km at 6.8% but measured at 4.4%. Either way it’s on a wide steady road and should not be tactical, it just wears down the riders and adds to the vertical gain. A reciprocal descent follows with wide bends and gentle slopes down. After four circuits of these hills and the cobbled coast road they’ve done 137.8km and return east along the coast past Barra da Tijuca

After 162km / 74.6km to go they start three laps of the 25.5km Vista Chinesa circuit with the double Canoas-Vista Chinesa climb along the way.

The Canoas road is as the profile shows, 4km at 10% making it the most selective part of the course and where many riders fill find their hopes dashed. There’s a quick 1km descent and then the Vista Chinesa climb, 4km at an average of 6% and then a brief descent to the actual Vista Chinesa (“Chinese lookout”). It’s all on twisting roads shaded by tropical vegetation, here’s a taster pic via Google:

Note the shade and the kerb. The descent is 4km at 10% and technical for the way it bends through the woodland, this is not a linear collection of ramps and hairpins but instead a twisting run down to the coast before a flat 12km run back to the Canoas climb again.

The Finish: once past the Vista Chinesa climb there’s less than 15km to the finish with the technical descent and then a flat beach run to the line. This might sound anodyne but it’s a crucial part of the course, the descent and then a significant flat run to the line. There’s no point a climber clipping away over the top on the last climb as they’ll struggle to stay away solo. Instead the flat section allows riders to regroup and therefore will prompt the climbers to launch their moves earlier. They head back to Copacabana and a flat finish by the beach. The final corner with 500m to go is a wide, gentle bend.

The Scenario: this is unlike all the other races we’re used to. For starters it’s once every four years, the cliché goes that “to win you have to be prepared to lose” only this holds when a loss can be amended the very next day or the following weekend. Here there’s no second chance and it should put more pressure on the riders to commit to moves rather than hold back.

Next is the composition of the field where the largest teams (Belgium, Colombia, Great Britain, Italy, Spain) have five riders each which is not enough to try and control the field and, then 10 other nations have teams of four and so on. By the time we get to the smaller nations they’ve got riders who won’t last too long in the race and it’s likely the larger nations conspire to burn them off early so as to thin the field and reduce risks meaning the race is even more compact and concentrated by the time they reach the final circuits.

As ever there’s a tension between country and employer. You might remember the London 2012 games and the sight of several Team Sky riders pulling hard on the front despite, say, their Belarus team kit. That example seemed particular explicit as if the British team had co-opted allies as part of a plan but there’s the implicit alliances as well, for example if Wout Poels jumped away would Britain’s Team Sky contingent chase him down; would Jacob Fuglsang spend energy trying to haul back Astana colleague Fabio Aru or would he rather let others do it? Will future team mates Vincenzo Nibali and Rui Costa tread on each other’s toes? The peloton politics are endless and if most race as hard as they can keep your eyes open in case of odd tactics.

We should see an elimination race where the field is thinned down over the climbs. The small teams mean if the big hitters chose to go on the second last time up the climb they can force a selection and leave everyone floundering behind. Many of the climbers in the race will need to try this because if they wait until the last last lap there’s no point taking 30 seconds over the top of the climb only to get reeled in on the run in.

The Contenders: there are a lot of contenders for this race and given the tactics outlined above it’s hard to imagine how the final two laps will play out. Add on mystery about the form of some riders and also the motivation, how many are in Rio for the fun of it, how many have aimed for the Tour de France, how many are building for the Vuelta and how many have made this a genuine priority. A cop out from trying to pick a winner? Perhaps but this uncertainty is what makes the race such a compelling prospect.

The prototype rider is one who can climb very well to cope with the hills, especially the Canoas climb of 4km at 10% and once they’ve made the race-winning move with others then they’ve got to have the skills on the descent not to lose ground and finally the ability to win the sprint. Many contenders have come from the Tour de France and this should be good preparation but ideally a rider who used the race as a stepping stone rather than an end point.

Alejandro Valverde seems to be everyone’s prime pick. You can see why because when he targets a race he rarely misses. Still the open nature of the race means he’s far from a certainty and his biggest problem could be himself, he’s a cagey rider who can hold himself back rather than commit to a long range raid. There’s no “I” in team but there is in Spain and Valverde’s biggest problem has been teamwork when he’s lead Spain at the Worlds. This time though only Joaquim Rodriguez is a notional rival and aide but he’s not the force he used to be and the rest of the team are three Movistar stalwarts with Tour stage winner Ion Izagirre an outsider who could jump while the big names mark each other.

Alaphilippe

Wherever Valverde goes Julian Alaphilippe has been seen banging his handlebars in frustration behind. The Frenchman has been thwarted in the Ardennes and now aims for gold after a promising Tour de France. He can climb and he sprints fast but he’s also 24 and prone to wasting energy at times. French team mate Romain Bardet is an outsider with Alexis Vuillermoz on team duty and Warren Barguil’s been ill.

Jarlinson Pantano

Who to pick from the Colombian team? Jarlinson Pantano was a darling of the Tour de France and if he’s started winning this year this is on another scale to his stage-poacher routine. Still he sprints well and can exploit the descents. Rigoberto Urán took silver in London last time with a clumsy sprint so bad some thought he sold the result so here’s the chance to make amends, seen as a stage racer he’s been adept on one day events too but the form is unknown. Esteban Chaves should be good on the climbs but gold seems unlikely even if he sprints ok from a small group while Miguel Angel Lopez is a punchier prospect but both of these two are aiming for the Vuelta more than Saturday.

Nibali

Vincenzo Nibali‘s had two goals this season, the Giro and this. His home tour practically fell into his lap, he used the Tour to for training and notional team duties although this didn’t mean much work. Here’s a course to suit although that flat final run to the line complicates things, when he wins it’s almost always solo, all or nothing. Fabio Aru hasn’t show much this year but even if he comes good on the climb it’s hard to see how he wins outright while Alessandro De Marchi is a breakaway specialist.

Bauke Mollema‘s win in the Clasica San Sebastian showed us what he can do and he’ll be marked now, his problem is that unlike last Saturday the finish is much further away from the final climb making it harder for him to clip away. If caught his sprint isn’t as convincing as his climbing but he’s a pick because of his go-getting attitude, he’ll attack when others mark each other. Similar story for Wout Poels who is worth watching.

Among the Belgians Philippe Gilbert is the prototype pick if he can hang on with the climbing, he can as his wins in Lombardia show and he’s got a bankable sprint if he comes in with a group of 10-20 riders, like many his form is a mystery and he’s not the rider he used to be but he knows a thing or two about winning his target races. Tim Wellens who is tipped on the basis of one ride in the Tour of Poland where he demolished the field on a mountain stage (NB: Tatra not Alps) in a downpour and came in minutes ahead of the rest but remains a lively rider rather than steady pick. Greg Van Avermaet is a pick for the sprint and he can cope well with short climbs but who’d want to take him to the finish? The climbers will want to eliminate him… Gilbert too.

Irish cousins Dan Martin and Nicolas Roche are worth watching, Dan Martin especially as he sprints fast and has the knack of sniping one huge day wins like the Tour of Lombardy and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Michał Kwiatkowski can win hilly one day races but little is known about his form. He was last seen going backwards on the Jaizkibel which doesn’t bode well but was he using it as a training race? Apparently not, the latest is that he says he’ll work for Rafał Majka but of the two Kwiatkowski is far better for the sprint, it’s hard to see Majka soloing away or outsprinting rivals for a medal.

The bookmakers have Chris Froome as the third pick. Only he’s never won a one day race. He could well feature on the climb and if he descends well, he’s no daredevil, the course here is very different to the Peyresourde. It’s hard to see him slipping away this time and then holding off the chase; harder still to see him winning from a sprint. Instead Adam Yates seems a better bet, Steven Cummings (pictured) is a possible pick, famous for his solo breakaways he packs a good sprint too and Geraint Thomas brings more options to the British team.

Ritchie Porte is like Froome, a stage racer rather than a one day winner but he took could use the climb and try to go into time trial mode and perhaps come in with a group of fellow stage racers and hope for the best. Simon Clarke is likely on team duty but is a former mountains prize winner in the Vuelta and if he’s back to his lighest he can still sprint.

Edvald Boasson Hagen is the dark horse pick because of his sprinting and because on a good day he can do the climbs. He’s been hit and miss on the hills this year but in the past he’s demolished the field to take Alpine stages in the Tour de France and Dauphiné.

Finally a few more names to rattle through. Rui Costa is strong and suited to a course like this but as ever he can be strong but just doesn’t win that often. Zdeněk Štybar will like the cobbles but he can climb well on a good day as seen in the Ardennes or his top-10 on San Sebastian in 2014 and his race craft could let him sneak the win in the finish. A sprint from a small group? Michael Albasini seems to pop up for the win on hilly races. South Africa have two riders but Daryl Impey and Louis Meintjes can play the old 1-2 with Meintjes going on the climb and Impey waiting for the sprint. Will Andrey Amador ride for Costa Rica or Movistar? There’s the enigmatic Rein Taaramäe, a rare winner but once he goes up the road he’s hard to catch. The final pick is mystery man Simon Špilak.

Alejandro Valverde
Adam Yates, Julian Alaphilippe, Dan Martin, Jarlinson Pantano
Vincenzo Nibali, Philippe Gilbert, Rigoberto Urán, Bauke Mollema, Rui Costa
Thomas, Boasson Hagen, Izagirre, Chaves, Bardet, Impey, Albasini, Štybar, GVA, Kwiatkowski, Clarke

Weather: hot and sunny with a top temperature of 32°C and only a slight offshore breeze.

TV: the race is on Saturday from 9.30am to 3.10pm Rio time, that’s 7.10pm for British readers, 8.10pm Euro time, 2.10pm EDT in the US and 4.10am for Australians in Sydney. It’s live from start to finish but up to your home broadcaster to show it, if it’s not on TV then check online as it should be streamed.

Photo credit of Rio from the Vista Chinesa, the high point of the road race circuit, by Flickr’s Joao Guilherme Soares Dias

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JHutch August 5, 2016 at 3:31 pm

Thanks as always for the great preview. Will be a fascinating race, I love the fact that you don’t feel there is a rider who justifies 5 rings.

The Inner Ring August 5, 2016 at 4:13 pm

It’s just too random. If there was a 10km summit finish it’d be easier but there isn’t and that makes it all the better.

JHutch August 6, 2016 at 10:32 am

I’m getting particularly irritated by the BBC repeatedly reporting Froome as favourite on the back his TdeF win. For all the growth in interest in cycling in the UK the news coverage is woeful, the report The TdeF and Olympic Road Race the way they’d talk about Mo Farah running 10k on a different outdoor arena track.

Augustas Pablo August 6, 2016 at 11:07 am

Its just to get more viewers, if they were reporting that Valverde was going to win it wouldn’t spark as much interest with the general public.

MultiplexRant August 7, 2016 at 12:34 am

To be fair, Boardman and Brotherton were pretty clear in commentary that he had a chance but wasn’t a favourite. Bear in mind they’re broadcasting to a broad audience who will want to know how the British riders are doing.

Massimiliano August 5, 2016 at 3:32 pm

No Ring for Nibali?
Are you sure?

Massimiliano August 5, 2016 at 3:38 pm

Ok, that’s better 😉

The Inner Ring August 5, 2016 at 3:38 pm

He’s on two rings. Some tech problems with the site today, looks like the draft version’s gone online. Fixing it now.

L'Islandais August 5, 2016 at 3:42 pm

Been refreshing your site all week in anticipation of this read. Not disappointed at all. If only it wasn’t for the (in my opinion) poor choice of font in the profile images, which are supplied by the organisers? The tree cover will also probably make the TV production difficult. Any info on who’s supplying? Whether it will be void of graphics and leave the audience guessing or a stellar production only adds to the anticipation!

Oh, and I doubt Amador will ride for Ecuador, being Costa Rican…

The Inner Ring August 5, 2016 at 4:12 pm

We’ll see for the TV, apparently last time it was the production company following IOC preferences to keep the screen as free as possible of graphics and captions… understandable for some sports but time gaps and KM to go are essential for a bike race on TV. Fixed Amador’s changing nationality too.

Paolo August 6, 2016 at 1:19 pm

Belgian national television will produce and direct images. So I guess the coverage should be more or less of the same standard as the Belgian races.

ShortsNL August 5, 2016 at 4:13 pm

I’m going to take a gamble and predict a boring race against your preview.

The race course has been mentioned as incredibly hard, taking into account many climbing km’s, cobbles, and temperature.

As we’ve seen with so many superhard one day races in recent years I think the peloton will be in ‘power saving’ mode until the last climb, and even then, their batteries will be flashing red almost empty.

Next a few strongmen will attack and the rest can’t follow. On the final descent/run into town the final winner become apparent.

Get ready for several hours of boring racing before max. 30 minutes of action.

Anonymous August 6, 2016 at 3:23 am

I think the small teams and presence of sub-WT level riders and nations will save it. If this was eight man WT teams I think your prediction would come true, but London shows it’s just uncontrollable.

Anonymous August 6, 2016 at 3:51 pm

The Sub WT riders and nations will be long out the back before the selections are made.

RQS August 5, 2016 at 4:21 pm

It seems you don’t fancy the Rouleurs for this, but I guess if it was that kind of course Sagan wouldn’t be riding the Mountain Bike race…..

StevhanTI August 5, 2016 at 4:56 pm

I’m thinking Gilbert had a dry run for this one during the Belgian national championship.

Gelato4 bahamontes August 5, 2016 at 5:12 pm

Here in Italy the press seem to think it’s nibali v valverde

Larry T August 5, 2016 at 6:49 pm

Wish I was still in Italy! Seeing anything meaningful on TV from the USA is going to be a challenge.
Vai Nibali!

Othersteve August 5, 2016 at 7:04 pm

Oh Larry, quite being the American the curmudgeon. You can watch the ToU ?

Larry T August 5, 2016 at 8:01 pm

Othersteve – The what? Some “vacation” race in Utah? What a vacation – after all, it’s in UTAH for gawd’s sake. What TV channel is it on and why would I want to watch it?
We’re screwed here in the USA, NBC won’t be showing much that’s not swimming or gymnastics and you have to be a cable subscriber to get their other channels, which just might be showing something you want to watch. And to stream anything, you again must be a cable subscriber, which we’re not. So all the free-enterprise/capitalism/freedom isn’t doing much for me when watching the Olympic Games is concerned. But I should know better, in the end the damn thing is supposed to be a peace festival…and too few in the USA are interested in that – they want “war” – medal counts, etc. USA! USA! USA!

Mt kr August 5, 2016 at 10:34 pm

Thanks interwebs for pirate streams in the US!

Bilmo August 6, 2016 at 12:30 am

The wonder of the BBC. All events on TV or online for free! So many hours of sport I don’t know what to do. Hope to be an expert in things such as fencing, wind surfing and skeet shooting by the end.

Jackal August 6, 2016 at 8:51 am

Larry – I live in Utah and not IOWA. Don’t talk crap about the Tour of Utah, the fact is that local companies invested in hosting a great event in the USA. By the way, riding everything 5-10K feet (2000-3000 meters) is different than sea level… so bursts of speed, and recovery make it a different game…. ask the european riders how easy they think it is. That said, I am not suggesting it is equal with a WT event. And Larry – it is free to watch on the Internet…

As for the Olympics – there are multiple ways to watch even as a cord cutter – “Let me Google that for you” was created for folks who had two many beers, a mental lapse or on the lower end of the bell curve.

Yes you have to pay for the extra content – but if you are a sports fan you get access to so much, for less than a ticket to many sporting events.

Bilmo August 5, 2016 at 5:38 pm

I’m very excited about this race. The course creates enough questions with difficult climbs and descents and a run in to the finish that is just long enough to keep things open.
As you say smaller teams add to the unpredictable nature and the political intrigue of team v country could also be crucial.
Is there a chance that a legacy race could come from this event? As you noted the World Tour isn’t very worldwide.
Any way having shown my excitement, the race will probably be a dud now!

dave August 6, 2016 at 9:39 am
JHutch August 6, 2016 at 10:38 am

That is so sad to see. I’m not suggesting the London Olympics were perfect but they have left a great park and facilities for both public access and world class sport. Even the stadium for all the criticism that it wouldn’t work for football apparently had a fantastic atmosphere for the first West Ham match there. I cycle and/or run through the park at least once a day and its fantastic to see so many people out enjoying part of the legacy.

ZigaK August 6, 2016 at 10:53 am

Sad, reminds me of Sarajevo or Buzludzha.

28teeth August 5, 2016 at 5:44 pm

I have a good feeling for Fuglsang…

L'Islandais August 6, 2016 at 9:20 am

If only to give the quality kit some airtime

PabloFleece August 6, 2016 at 10:14 pm

Nice pick!

Anonymous August 5, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Great article as usual. If Cummings can get into a break (fingers crossed) that’ll mean GBR has a chance to win with him AND also means Stannard et al won’t have to work on the front giving us another chance if break is caught!

Para 2 in The Scenario section is truncated. Ends “and reduce risks meaning the”

Will you be analysing the Women’s race?

Martin TB August 5, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Damn that was from me – forgot name sorry.

Elle August 5, 2016 at 6:29 pm
Martin TB August 5, 2016 at 6:37 pm

Thanks

The Inner Ring August 5, 2016 at 7:41 pm

Hope to do a “The Moment The Race Was Won” piece for the women’s race.

Martin TB August 5, 2016 at 7:56 pm

Thanks 😀

A different J Evans August 5, 2016 at 6:23 pm

I think this has the potential to be a great race. So many different strategies that could play out.

I’d probably give Froome a chainring myself; he’s powerful on the flat so if he gets over the last climb in a group of 4-5 (say, with Rodriguez and Valverde marking each other), he has a chance to get away.

Thanks for the preview!

JHutch August 6, 2016 at 10:40 am

I really don’t have a clue who I think will win.. I agree about Froome, I don’t think he will but would not be surprised if he did.

Craig Johnson August 5, 2016 at 6:40 pm

Is Sagan not riding and if not, what is he aiming for?

Anonymous August 6, 2016 at 3:53 pm

The MTB race

Craig Johnson August 5, 2016 at 6:42 pm

Sorry, didn’t read other comments, he’s doing mountain bike

Luiz August 6, 2016 at 12:43 am

Sagan will be participating in Moutain Bike, not road one

HughW August 5, 2016 at 6:42 pm

Great preview of a fascinating race. Given the length and difficulty of the parcours, I suspect an attack over the last summit might stick, because the chasers will be exhausted – think of Cancellara and Vanmarke vs Sagan at Flanders. On that basis, I’d pick Richie Porte or Dan Martin for the win.

Anonymous August 6, 2016 at 3:54 pm

A lot of technical descent and flat after the summit (15K) can’t see one of those pair staying away.

Richard S August 5, 2016 at 7:51 pm

Picking a winner here is a tough one as the course isn’t really like anything we see regularly. That 10km of flat run in is a long way. The only one day race with such a long run in to the line is probably Gent-Wevlegem, which is obviously a bit less hilly! If we are talking about someone who can climb and then stay away on the flat I’m thinking Thomas, he nearly made it in London but he won’t have any sprinters hunting him down here.

dave August 6, 2016 at 9:35 am

Think this is a good pick – dependent on when GB let Thomas go?

His one-day attacks 90% of the time (if he doesn’t crash) don’t succeed though (Milan San Remo the other year, London last wkend, actually how many more are they? Guess that should be 66.6% as he won E3! Was there a Paris-Roubaix one when Wiggo came 10th? -usually G’s chasing) so that doesn’t bode well.

If it’s an interesting race think the above could be spot on – if it’s dull and everyone’s marking, don’t think he has a chance? Hard to say would love, to see it.

Ecky Thump August 5, 2016 at 9:50 pm

GB’s choice of Stannard tells you something – riding at the front, with the big man playing the role of wind breaker. Then what?
I hope to goodness it’s not Cummings turn next – burned off, Yates’ turn – burned off, Thomas delivers Froome to the last lap. Please GB, don’t be so unimaginative as that.
Surely they’re not going to Sky Train us are they?

dave August 6, 2016 at 9:13 am

Why would you think this? When has a GB team ever done a Sky train on a hilly-mountainous course? Have Sky ever done a Sky train on a one-day hilly course? (LBL/Ardennes/Lombardia)

Everything suggests five riders isn’t enough to contain the peloton, and even Froome/Sky’s tactics have been more varied than Sky-training recently anyway – but whether or not they were varied/appropriate previously they’ve generally been decent when they’ve been going all out (usually TDF) – so there’s nothing suggesting (especially considering the mistake of the last Olympics Road Race) they’d ignore common wisdom of what suits this course and Sky train it for Froome to attack on the last climb and try desperately to hold on for 15k….. as that’s not a very good tactic?

Partly because in that scenario they’d likely be doing Valverde a very big favour!

But also as Sky Training is for uphill finishes, and this isn’t an uphill finish.

It’s quite hard to say not knowing what suits Froome in a one day race what GB’s best tactics are? You think making it hard early, but why not let Spain do that? Maybe just firing off attacks and generally sitting in the shadows? Send Cummings out early, then Geraint and save Yates/Froome for finale?

If Froome’s on form, his attack from the bottom to the top of the final climb may be too brutal to withstand whether or not the race has been hard? But really this feels like clutching at straws – Yates is maybe the best bet after the final climb, defo led out early and hung out to dry as in San Sebastian!

Valverde has to be the pick. Martin has a very good chance. Alaphilippe yep. Hard to see past them if it’s not going to be a random.

dave August 6, 2016 at 9:15 am

(defo not led out early)

Ecky Thump August 6, 2016 at 11:25 am

I agree with you totally, though the selection of Stannard does suggest a certain methodology (riding at / near the front), early on at least.
GB did try to control the 2012 RR and came unstuck because of it, so you would think that was a valuable lesson learned.

It wouldn’t surprise me if GB sent Cummings and maybe Thomas up the road, let others do the work.

It seems that most of the other cycling reviews I’ve seen have got GC riders as the main bets, so it’s interesting that Inrng has quite a few puncheurs in his contenders.
21 x contenders mentioned though!!
Talk about covering all bases, but it is a lottery to predict.

STS August 5, 2016 at 10:29 pm

I agree this should indeed be Valverde’s race to lose. The long flat stretch on the final circuit – what a mistake on an other wise worthy course ! – will kill anyone trying to do a long range attack. So as long as you keep the group of escapees small which is in the mutual interest of all the big player’s teams time will work in favor of them and it will all come down to the final lap. Similar to the final of the Amstel I’m afraid probably leading to a boring race to watch until then.
I’m curious to find out if Purito will help out Valverde. If those two race as a team – and that’s a very big IF – and Valverde is on a normal day he will certainly make the front group coming down to the finish. And then there are only a few who can challenge Valverde in a sprint after a course like this. Alaphilippe certainly being the biggest threat, Kwiat on one of his great days, Gerro if he was there and on his normal form. Dan Martin, of course as he did in Lombardy 2014.
I read a lot about how dangerous the descents are. Fortunately the weather forecast only sees a very small chance for rain. Otherwise they could have the biggest influence on who contests the sprint to the line.

Goonie August 5, 2016 at 11:39 pm

I dunno if I can find the quotes but my understanding from press reports was that Porte was to be the protected rider for the Australian team even before the withdrawal of Germans.

STS August 5, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Just learned that Gerro IS in the team. Mistakingly thought he couldn’t make it because of the injury he took in the Ventoux stage. So, I wonder why you, dear INRNG don’t mention him. You probably have a good reason since you always know more than we do.

Patrick August 6, 2016 at 12:45 am

there have been a few articles from outlets less knowledgeable than inrng (velonews and/or cyclingnews) talking about gerrans. not sure if they were written weeks ago or just confused by the fact that he was replaced by another Simon (Clarke) who is to my mind more suited to this course anyway.

Tricky Dicky August 5, 2016 at 11:46 pm

I broadly agree STS. I wonder if the winner might actually be the first rider to attack on the flat run-in to the finish. Unless we witness something truly remarkable, I am finding it hard to see a scenario where Valverde isn’t in that front group and you’d think no one is going to pull while he’s lurking (and they shouldn’t) and true to form, he won’t pull, hence the attacker survives….so, who has the climbing skills, the descending skills and the audacity to attack solo? I’m thinking Bardet or Nibali. Hope it’s Thomas!

STS August 6, 2016 at 12:20 am

Thanks!
That’s where Purito comes in. With the shape he recently displayed I reckon he will also be in that final front group. Maybe even Izaguirre? I also think Alaphilippe will be kind of an ally to Valverde if he makes it into the final. But yes, as predictable as the scenario seems to be predicting the winner is a lottery. I agree on Thomas chances. He will certainly not wait for the sprint and he should be able to keep them at bay if he attacks. It also depends of the wind direction on that flat section, of course.

STS August 5, 2016 at 11:41 pm

Please delete my last comment since Gerro is not in the offical starting list.

MrPither95 August 6, 2016 at 1:05 am

Thanks for the fantastic preview. Agree that Valverde is the favorite…but I don’t think he’ll win. Lately he seems to be looking for help when another rider jumps in the final k’s, and if he doesn’t get it, he’ll stick with the bunch instead of trying to bridge. But he’ll be “there or thereabouts”.

gabriele August 6, 2016 at 1:43 am

… “lately”? ^__^

dave August 6, 2016 at 9:30 am

+1

leadbellies August 6, 2016 at 6:18 am

Waited for this preview with bated breath. Outstanding as always. Adam Yates, Purito, Dan Martin, Vincenzo Nibali and maybe as outsider Amador. Important is , who really wants to win this, and who has pruned their training/season to be spot on on the day. Very difficult to beat a strong family, in every sense. Think Dan the Man will sneak it.

dave August 6, 2016 at 9:28 am

+1
every finger crossed this is true just to stop Valverde!

Hahostolze August 6, 2016 at 7:51 am

Can’t believe Poels doesn’t get a chainring. He’s going to win this

dave August 6, 2016 at 9:22 am

+1

but only a chainring, he’s in the same camp as Froome and really needs a reduced group to go on final climb and then attack that in last 5k and avoid a sprint as you’d expect at least one of Valverde/Martin/Alap to be in that selection whatever happens.

The Inner Ring August 6, 2016 at 11:28 am

Too many names… he could win too as he’s got a good jump as we’ve seen in his previous wins like Tirreno-Adriatico but unable to name every rider I went for Mollema as he brings a bit more power if he jumps away in the closing kilometres. We’ll see.

Patrick August 6, 2016 at 8:05 am

this is why 1-day races are so much better than tours. really unpredictable even just how its going to play out let alone who is going to win. 21 riders rated and there are others yet who could well win it – chapeau to the course designer. it is for climbers what milan san remo is for sprinters – theoretically setup for them but not so much so as to rule out a different type of rider winning

dave August 6, 2016 at 9:27 am

…..or they just all wait for the final climb and it’s epically dull till the final 15k and then Valverde wins…..

(seems like hilly one days races the majority of the time have multiple possible winners but overall are exceptionally dull till at most final 30k….of the classics, I’d take Paris-Roubaix over LBL/Ardennes etc any day on recent form)

Tovarishch August 6, 2016 at 8:08 am

I’d like to see a chain ring for Cummings. I think the parcours really suits his style and he could, once again, catch the favourites napping on the run in.

dave August 6, 2016 at 9:20 am

Would be amazing – but surely he’ll be used up to early (whether in a doomed break or as helper) – and as his wins have come from breaks, it’s hard to know whether he’d have the punch to win from a reduced group of the absolute best (Nibali clearly wasn’t at full speed during the TDF stage this year) — as it would be a surprise to see a Cummings-esq break allowed to go today, so maybe hard to see him winning?

Would be super happy though if he did win!

Steppings August 6, 2016 at 8:37 am

I will be supporting Mr Phillip Gilbert, however I fear the distance will favour a rider with post Tour form.

dave August 6, 2016 at 9:17 am

TdF in the legs or not – surely it’s too hilly for Gilbert? It a long time since he won Lombardia or was even in the shake-up, I just can’t see him getting anywhere near on this one?

Steppings August 6, 2016 at 9:28 am

I can dream! (smiley face).

RQS August 6, 2016 at 9:53 am

Hopefully team GB won’t be the team to watch and be expected to chase any breaks down which is what did for them last time.

With Stannard, Cummings, Thomas and Froome we have a range of riders that can deal with almost any race situation but a sprint.

I expect they will use Cummings and Yates to get in any breaks and ride tempo. I wonder if the talk about Thomas and Froome being the leader is a feint to distract other teams who watch them.

Either way, tactically they have so many options I really think they can out manuouvre the opposition, but that said the course does not and the team dynamics of the reduced teams make it easy to call.

George Vest August 6, 2016 at 10:05 am

No one has a clue really, do they. I do think that GB have more cards to play than most. How about Froome drives it up the last hill as a decoy to let G slip away and time trial to victory? No? Oh well.

Paddy Dunne August 6, 2016 at 10:30 am

That could also be GB’s downfall to many options. Any move they make will be so telegraphed, it wil leave it open for some one like Danno (bias pick!) or possibly Henao(any Colombian, would be cool). Think Alaphillipe will be banging the bars again but on the podium. Wont be watching til the final hour. I’m guessing BBC radio 5 with have full coverage?

Augustas Pablo August 6, 2016 at 11:24 am

Im a bit puzzled on the timings, does the race start at 19.10 or 13.15 like it says on the bbc?

The Inner Ring August 6, 2016 at 11:28 am

It depends on your time zone of course. The finish times are listed above, a late afternoon finish in Rio meaning an evening finish for viewers in Europe etc.

Ecky Thump August 6, 2016 at 11:31 am

Brazil are 4 hours behind GMT, so it looks like the BBC coverage will span their afternoon into evening shows (lots of live Olympics coverage on tv today).

Me Here August 6, 2016 at 11:36 am

It looks like the whole race is on the BBC Red Button. They have opened up a load of them again, and the race is on the last one 24\7 or something similar.

Mike August 6, 2016 at 2:33 pm

You may have seen this already – but check out the jersey in the main photo on the team GB site 🙂

https://www.teamgb.com/news/five-to-follow-on-day-one-at-the-olympic-games

Tovarishch August 6, 2016 at 3:06 pm

Have a recommend.

hoh August 6, 2016 at 9:56 pm

Is that … Mr Inrng by any chance?

The Inner Ring August 6, 2016 at 11:41 pm

Nice to see. It’s a reader https://twitter.com/zletokan/status/761235427487539201

Who has been helpful in describing the course for the preview above too

Vitus August 7, 2016 at 2:36 am

Haha, saw that scene on the tv today, think it was the BBC.

Zach August 6, 2016 at 3:03 pm

Does anyone know when/if commentary will pick up on the NBC online stream? The feed is coming through fine. Just no announcers to let you know whats going on.

Larry T August 6, 2016 at 4:01 pm

Be careful what you wish for! The brief snippets available on NBC’s over-the-air broadcast have Heckel (or is he Jeckel?) of the infamous duo, Christian Vandevelde (who must struggle dumbing things down for a generic TV audience while not contradicting Heckel’s usual mindless blather too much) and Steve Porino, who really doesn’t seem to know a whole lot about cycling, though he tries. 200+ kms of racing left and I’ll be shocked if more than a total of 15 minutes gets broadcast.
Vai Nibali!

Paddy Dunne August 7, 2016 at 8:46 am

The BBC bless ’em think they got this cycle racing lark, down pat. The main stream press in the UK have wittered on all week about Froome and co as the favourites. Then today their probing the ” experts” about how wrong they were. I guess what I’m saying is turn the sound down and read the race you see it. Today it’s all about LA. D’oh! I tend to get lost in races like Vuelta Burgos. Something random and off the radar for most

Anonymous August 6, 2016 at 3:50 pm

A, ahem, “interesting” course, maybe some crosswinds, no race radios, no big budget teams. This is back to old school racing.

Anonymous August 6, 2016 at 4:15 pm

Include in that, poor tv monitor picture for commentators, cobbles shaking all those loose bolts etc. and with my two hands I should be able to easily count the finishers.

Me Here August 6, 2016 at 5:24 pm

I think it is Bouncing Bottles (which are too small) causing the chains to come off etc.

Why didn’t they know the bottles are too small and put some tape on the cages?

Morten Reippuert August 6, 2016 at 6:06 pm

Brittish team cheating again…

Frome was just off his bike for a pee – remounted, rode a few 100m where the team car was waiting with a new bike (proberbly a lighter one). Not even a machanical malfuncture.

Rules says that the car can’t drive ahead and wait with a new bike. In a bike switch they have to wait for the rider to stop and then stop the car, take the bike off the roof and make the swap.

After that he and Thomas are give many km of pace behind the team car, thats against rules as well.

Anonymous August 6, 2016 at 6:37 pm

Has Denmark got a team?

Morten Reippuert August 6, 2016 at 6:45 pm

yes, why?

what does team GB’s rule infringements has to do with it?

Morten Reippuert August 6, 2016 at 8:41 pm

O yes indeed Denmark has a team 🙂

Cd August 6, 2016 at 9:47 pm

Hah! Did the UK field a team for the Olympics? Pack fill and poor GT can’t stay up again

Anonymous August 6, 2016 at 9:50 pm

Thank you for sharing

Paddy Dunne August 7, 2016 at 8:50 am

It seems to be part of pattern with the brits. I’m sure there’s a reasonably explanation why they drafted for so long. Then to rub salt in, Froome pips Dan Martin at the finish!

Steppings August 6, 2016 at 8:43 pm

What a race!!

Pax August 6, 2016 at 8:53 pm

Wow – definitely not boring.

Greg VA was a worthy winner, in the break for the last 60K+ and climbing quite well.

Kudos to Majka and Fuglsang. It seem liked Fuglsang and Greg VA worked together to attack (or were both attentive.)

Very unfortunate that crashes made a difference.

Larry T August 6, 2016 at 9:09 pm

I must admit that NBC’s free, over-the-air coverage was a pleasant surprise overall. Yeah, it was dribbled out in between water polo and endless heats of swimming, but when it finally counted they did a pretty good job. The race was exciting enough to allow me to pretty much ignore the inane commentary (apologies Christian, it’s gotta be tough) and just enjoy the tension as the finale came nearer.
For Nibali, you live the by the descent, you die by the descent (assuming he was in the lead and fell off all by himself) but at least he was up there making a race of it. Couldn’t help but yell into the TV for Majka to get down on the drops and GO…as the two behind him were doing…but by the time he did it was too late and it became GVA’s race to lose. Can the women’s race tomorrow equal this one for excitement?

Cd August 6, 2016 at 9:39 pm

Haha. Same here. Wife and I kept yelling at Majka to get in the drops. Climber skills.

Morten Reippuert August 6, 2016 at 9:46 pm

I belive Henao went down first. Fuglsang said that i noticed a small bump on the 2nd last decent exactly where Porte and others wendt down on the 2nd last decent and the same spot where Nibali, Henao and Thomas went down on the last decent – and that he decided NOT to go all out on the last decent.

Still Nibalis and Henaos crash dows not mean that they would have stayed clear, it took the chasing group a really long time for everyone to find out that only Majka was ahead and start an unorganized chase, most of the group belived that there where riders ahead of Majka who they could see up the road – you could see that Funglsang signalled that only Majka was in front and that they should chase together after he talked to the Daish/Irish team car .
Apperantly Andrei Zeitz helped Fuglsang, just before he attacked with Van Avermat on his wheel and Fuglsang went all out from the start to avoid Allaphillipe to latch on.

Larry T August 6, 2016 at 11:20 pm

If “The Shark “let Henao go first, he’s even more to blame! He didn’t win Il Lombardia by following someone else…. plus he hit the deck avoiding Froome a few weeks ago. I was so wanting another Lombardia-like fairy tale ending, but them’s the breaks and one can’t take anything away from GVA, he was the best man on the day.

Strictly Amateur / The GCW August 7, 2016 at 3:17 am

(For Nibali), you live the by the descent, you die by the descent

Love it!

ZigaK August 6, 2016 at 9:38 pm

Michał Kwiatkowski – man of the race by far.

Morten Reippuert August 6, 2016 at 9:54 pm

I think Nibaly was the man of the race in the final 2 laps.

The race proved that Chris Frome is totally unable to perform in a one day race and that he can’t handle a race tactics without radio and with a small team (even though he had the biggest team of the Race). Poland raced with 4, Denmark with only 3.

And on the final accend he was dropped easyly by Kangel, Costa and Allaphillipe after he had attacked.

In this route – proberly one the most difficult route ever in a one day race + the very early and strong 6 mand brakeaway made the race really hard from the begining.

5-6 man teams and no-radio seem like the ideal size for both oneday races and stage races. Yhe current 8-9 man size enables the wealthiest teams to control a race too much and gives us borring racing. Significantly smaller teams please.

STS August 6, 2016 at 11:04 pm

Agree on team size and its effect on the type of racing. But I think Poland gave away the gold medal when they chose to ride for Maika instead of Kwiat. Imagine what Kwiat could have done if he would have been the protected rider instead of driving the lead group when he was able to hang out with the leaders until the last lap before he cramped.
If he was there alone on the finishing flat kms instead of Majka no one would have brought him back.

Patrick August 7, 2016 at 4:02 am

true, if GVA can win on a climbers course then kwiatkowski certainly can, depending on how his form is, it has been pretty poor so far this year but seemed good today.
however nobody expected this result so we ca’t fault the poles for supporting their best climber when everyone thought a climber would win.

i just wish there were more races as unpredictable as this. yes the first real race on a new course always has potential to do that and the small teams sure help (hello uci?) but the course also had the right mix to offer something for everyone.

Morten Reippuert August 7, 2016 at 8:41 am

better races:
Smaller teams (though not equal size, poland had only 4, Denmark 3 and Ireland only 2 riders)
No radios.
Only one team car
Less motor bikes.

MD August 7, 2016 at 12:54 pm

Or just one day long races….

Anonymous August 6, 2016 at 10:00 pm

Fair play to Rio, when coverage started I thought it might be a bit like Wacky Races, but that was some course! scenery to die for, cobbles, climbs, descents, rainforest, urban jungle and as far as I saw, no silly incidents with motorbikes, cars or crowds. Bloody well done Rio. So pleased for GVA and at last we now have a new current Olympic Champion.

MultiplexRant August 7, 2016 at 12:48 am

I felt this had to be the year GVA really fulfilled his promise – and despite the injury, I think this has done the trick. His palmares still feel surprisingly slight for a rider who is such a consistent contender though – he needs a Flanders or Roubaix win, I feel, to truly cement his position in cycling history.

Of course, he could win a historic Olympic/Worlds double this year – has that ever been done before?

MultiplexRant August 7, 2016 at 12:42 am

Sagan should have ridden this instead of MTB. He could’ve won today.

Pax August 7, 2016 at 6:55 am

I feel like GVA was not viewed as much of a threat because of the climbing. If Sagan was there, I feel like there is a good chance that the race would have played out differently, when several teams bent on making sure they had a strategy to eliminate Sagan. Others would have likely sat on his wheel – following his every move, if they could.

Besides with Sagan riding the MTB, he transcends the male road expectations.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot doesn’t get enough credit for being world champion in road, cross and MTB at the same time. An amazing feat last year!

Guilherme August 7, 2016 at 1:00 am

I was on the course, at the end of Canoas (mid of Vista Chinesa climb, just before the 1km descent). It was epic. Froome seemed the man to beat when on the second lap, but his face was a mask of pain on the third.

The descent is really tricky. I cannot imagine how hard it should be to dive that 5km down cross eyed from the effort.

Cancellara was really nice and retributed the guys that were cheering for him, at the end of the third climb. Class act.

Bruno Sousa August 7, 2016 at 1:09 am

I’m from Rio, can’t Tell you how emotional we are. This is where we train everyday, and seeing these guys Ride it was unexplainable. So proud we put up one hell of a race, hopefully that’ll be the tune of all events. Cheers! Vai Brasil!

STS August 7, 2016 at 1:20 am

Great race course indeed, Bruno! Only the cobbles seemed weird to me.
Would certainly make for an exciting annual “classic”. Are there a lot of accidents on those descents during regular traffic or are those rather calm roads?
Fills us in the Northern hemisphere with envy that a day like this shows your typical winter training weather.

Bruno Sousa August 7, 2016 at 1:44 am

Very few cars! And 10 minutes Ride away from Ipanema. We usually go up Vista Chinesa, not down, and it’s harder than Canoas. That’s cycling land there, dozens of cyclists ever morning. In the winter, temperatures are around 20 and 30 c, in the summer, around 30-35, with peaks of 40 or more, but it:s a lot cooler in the Forest.

Guilherme August 7, 2016 at 3:15 am

Winter here is actually the best time of the year.

Normally, as the road is open to traffic, you have to descend it slowly to be safe. So it is pretty rare to experience crashes.

It was pretty special to watch them riding where I’ve started riding.

JH August 7, 2016 at 10:37 am

You guys need to put in a bid for a Grand Depart 🙂

Whaleoilbeefhooked August 7, 2016 at 10:41 am

That is a proper Olympic legacy for Bruno and hopefully many others in Rio. No white elephants built for this one.

Camelback need to become the official bottle sponsor. Interesting to see the mods on the women’s race to keep bottles in cages.

Cracking race, decent coverage by 7 in Australia has brightened up my holiday no end.

PT August 8, 2016 at 12:20 am

Can understand you you guys must feel pumped. Fascinating race, challenging course and great scenery. Well done Rio.

Anonymous August 7, 2016 at 10:51 am

An Olympic Champion we can be proud of at last!

Michael B August 7, 2016 at 11:50 am

Tremendous race and a worthy winner at the end of it. What a great year for GvA. Would have been really interesting to see how that would have played out with Sagan, as others have pointed out. I know LBL and Lombardia offer it to an extent, but it was great to see such an open race with such a wide variety of riders in the mix. Fantastic course.

H August 7, 2016 at 8:05 pm

‘Future teammates Vincenzo Nibali and Rui Costa’

Do you think that Costa will go to Bahrain-Merida, or that Bahrain-Merida will take over Lampre’s licence and riders?

MultiplexRant August 7, 2016 at 12:37 am

Seconded! Delved into archery, judo, rowing, gymnastics, whiff-whaff and water polo today. Easy to take that red button for granted.

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