2016 Men’s Olympic Cycling Road Race highlights: Race updates, blog

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    The Olympic and cycling competition begin with a bang with perhaps the hardest Olympic course in history sure to test the best riders on the planet to their absolute limit.

    This is a course for the pure climbers and the men who stand on the final podiums at grand tours.

    Who will prove themselves the strongest on the day and claim the first gold medal of the cycling program? Join The Roar to find out with live coverage of stage 21 from 12am (AEST).

    The course in Rio is a hybrid of all the spring classics with cobbled sections, possible cross-winds, and steep punishing climbing all present along the 236km route.

    What separates this course from those of previous Olympiads is the back to back climb of Canoas and Vista Chinesta (8.5km, 5.7 per cent).

    The average gradient is artificially lowered due to the mid climb descent with the riders having to tackle sections north of 10 per cent.

    The length and difficulty of the climb will be the decisive factor in the race with only a handful of riders capable of surviving the three circuits.

    If a solo attack is to survive on the final ascent the rider will need a large gap due to the 10km flat drag to the finish that follows the fast and technical 6km descent.

    However, the descent does lend itself to a daring attack with its technical twists and turns.

    The race is broken into two distinct circuits the first circuit is 25km and will be completed four times it contains short punchy climbs designed to take the edge of the peloton before the punishing closing circuit.

    The final circuit commences at around the 160km mark and will be completed three times and is highlighted by the aforementioned Canoas and Vista Chinesta climbs.

    A breakaway will form early perhaps even before the start of the first circuit. With teams capped at five riders the race will be extremely difficult to control therefore the breakaway will not be given much leeway from the likes of Great Britain, Spain, and Italy.

    Expect only a very reduced bunch to make it to the finish line or even groups of two and three. The race will be extremely fragmented on the final climb with the pure climbers looking to distance climbers who possess a finishing sprint such as Alejandro Valverde and Dan Martin.

    The Rio circuit narrows the field in terms of picking a race winner.

    The difficulty of the final circuits will ensure that only proven Ardennes classic winners, Grand tour riders, and pure climbers will fight it out for the win.

    Of the Ardennes specialists Valverde and Martin are the obvious choices and will be hoping for a reduced bunch sprint.

    Chris Froome coming off a dominant Tour de France victory is the best climber in the field and if he decides to attack there are very few if any riders capable of holding his wheel. The only question mark against him is that he is completely unproven as a one-day racer.

    Team Columbia will animate the race with adopted Aussie Esteban Chaves their best chance, Vincenzo Nibali will be aggressive but is lacking form, while Aussie hopes rest with Richie Porte who has great climbing legs but will need to win solo as he doesn’t possess a finishing sprint.

    Overall the final climb will not prove decisive enough for the pure climbers to distance the punchy finishers and Alejandro Valverde will claim gold for Spain in a reduced sprint finish.

    Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of the Olympic Men’s Cycling Road Race from 12am (AEST) and don’t forget to add your own comments in the section below.

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    The Crowd Says (211)

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    • Roar Guru

      Scott Pryde said | 5:02am | ! Report

      Hearing Porte has broken his collar bone.

    • 4:52am
      Ryan Day said | 4:52am | ! Report

      Thank you for following along tonight and into the very early hours of the morning. Stay tuned to the Roar throughout the games as we have got you covered with live blogs of all the major events.

      GOLD: Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium)
      SILVER: Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark)
      BRONZE: Rafael Majka (Poland)

    • 4:50am
      Ryan Day said | 4:50am | ! Report

      After a career in the shadows of Phillipe Gilbert and near misses in Classics Van Avermaet finally has his moment in the sun and what a way to do it on the promenade of the Copacabana in Rio.

    • 4:48am
      Ryan Day said | 4:48am | ! Report

      Carnage on the final descent took out Nibali and Henao which left Majka alone. Majka bravely fought to stay in front but couldn’t hold off Van Avermaet and Fuglsang. Replays show Van Avermaet had a decisive margin in the sprint and punches the air in delight contrasted by the anguished face of Majka. The course promised drama and it certainly delivered unfortunately most of the drama was caused by crashes with many riders coming to grief on the descent of the Vista Chinesa. However nothing takes away from a deserving victory for Van Avermaet.

    • Roar Guru

      Scott Pryde said | 4:44am | ! Report

      That’s such a feel good story for Van Avermaet – really like him as a rider. Such a deserving podium in fact.

      Cheers Ryan. Have a good sleep mate – been a long call.

    • 4:43am
      Ryan Day said | 4:43am | ! Report

      GOLD: Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium)
      SILVER: Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark)
      BRONZE: Rafael Majka (Poland)

    • 4:42am
      Ryan Day said | 4:42am | ! Report

      What a ride from Van Avermaet no one wanted to bring him to the finish but a late attack with Fuglsang allowed him to bridge to Majka and from there it was a formality. He hung on for dear life on the climbs and attacked on his favoured flat terrain and delivers Belgium a GOLD MEDAL.

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