Olympic Cycling: Rio 2016 men's road race preview
Course guide, favourites, outsiders and start list
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 06/08/16 1:11pm
A selection of the best climbers in cycling will bid for gold in the Olympic Games men’s road race on Saturday.
It is one of the sport's most prestigious events and this year takes places on a hilly course in and around Rio.
Here is everything you need to know….
WHEN DOES IT TAKE PLACE?
The race is on Saturday, August 6. It starts at 1.30pm BST and is scheduled to end at 7.26pm BST.
It takes place on a 237.5km course that contains 11 climbs and can roughly be split up into five sections:
- A flat run out of Rio along the coast.
- Four laps of the hilly Grumari Circuit.
- A short dash back down the coast towards Rio.
- Two and a half laps of the hilly Vista Chinesa Circuit.
- A flat finale in Rio.
Here is the map and profile…
The Grumari Circuit contains a cobbled section and two climbs, which are each ridden four times. Here is the profile of the Grumari climb, followed by the profile of the Grota Funda climb…
The Vista Chinesa Circuit contains one climb, up to Vista Chinesa, which is ridden three times. Here is the profile…
The summit of the final ascent to Vista Chinesa comes with 14.8km to go. It is followed by a descent of about 5.3km and then 9.5km of flat to the finish beside Copacabana beach.
HOW TO FOLLOW THE RACE
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Age: 36. Nationality: Spanish. Sky Bet odds: 7/2.
Valverde may be a veteran but he is still one of the best all-rounders in cycling and seems perfect for the course. He can climb and descend with the best in the world and also has probably the fastest sprint of all the climbers, so if a small group reaches the finish line together, he will be the man to beat.
Age: 31. Nationality: Italian. Sky Bet odds: 15/2.
Nibali can also can climb and descend with the very best and although he doesn't have a sprint to match Valverde's, his trump card is the fact he is outstanding at solo attacks. He won with a late lone raid at last year's Il Lombardia, which ends with a climb and then a descent to the finish not too dissimilar to the Rio road race.
Age: 31. Nationality: British. Sky Bet odds: 9/1.
Froome showed at the Tour de France that as well as being the best climber in the world, he can also descend like a stone and isn't shabby in a sprint either. The difficulty for the Briton is that while all the other favourites have excellent one-day racing pedigree, he has virtually none. Froome is used to having his team control a race before launching a stinging solo attack at the finish, but in Rio the tactics will be completely different and he will instead have to ride on instinct and impulse.
Age: 37. Nationality: Spanish. Sky Bet odds: 12/1.
Rodriguez is Spain's Plan B should Valverde's challenge not materialise. He doesn't have his team-mate's sprint, but he is an outstanding climber and specialises in steep gradients, so the Vista Chinesa ascent should be right up his street. Rodriguez has twice won Il Lombardia and has also been a runner-up at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, another hilly one-day Classic, so he has the know-how to win in Rio.
Age: 24. Nationality: French. Sky Bet odds: 14/1.
Alaphilippe is one of two potential leaders of the French team along with Romain Bardet. He is a specialist in hilly one-day races who descends brilliantly and has a sprint that is even faster than Valverde's. However, staying with the pure climbers up to Vista Chinesa could be a tough ask.
Age: 29. Nationality: Irish. Sky Bet odds: 16/1.
Similar to Valverde and Alaphilippe, Martin is a hilly Classics specialist who won Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2013 and Il Lombardia in 2014, so there is no question that he has the potential to succeed in Rio. He has also improved on longer climbs immeasurably in the past year, so the Vista Chinesa won't worry him too much. What could be a problem, though, is that he only has one team-mate, while the likes of Valverde, Nibali and Froome all have four.
Age: 28. Nationality: Dutch. Sky Bet odds: 18/1.
Along with Bauke Mollema and Steven Kruijswijk, Poels is one of three potential leaders of a Dutch team that could shake up the race. Poels was one of the strongest climbers in the Tour, won Liege-Bastogne-Liege earlier in the year and has also taken victories on similar finishes to Rio in the past, so he has all the components to be a serious threat.
Age: 29. Nationality: Portuguese. Sky Bet odds: 20/1.
Costa won the world road race title on a hilly course not too dissimilar Rio's, beating Rodrgiuez into second, Valverde into third and Nibali into fourth. Although he doesn't have the strongest team to support him, he is one of the wiliest riders in the peloton and it would not be a surprise to see him in contention at the finish. The length of the Vista Chinesa climb could be a problem, though.
Age: 25. Nationality: French. Sky Bet odds: 20/1.
Bardet is at longer odds than Alaphilippe but is arguably the stronger option for France, which makes him a enticing bet at 20/1. He can climb and descend as well as anybody and has just finished second at the Tour, so he has good form. He doesn't have much one-day racing experience, but he is highly adept at solo attacks.
Age: 29. Nationality: Dutch. Sky Bet odds: 25/1.
Aside from a late collapse at the Tour, Mollema has been in excellent form this summer and outlined his credentials for Rio by winning the one-day Clasica San Sebastian last weekened, which finishes with a climb and then a descent to the finish.
OTHER ONES TO WATCH
- Jarlinson Pantano (Col): Enjoyed a brilliant Tour, climbs well, descends as quickly as anyone and also has a sprint. Sky Bet odds: 33/1.
- Adam Yates (GB): Excellent climber and has won a hilly one-day race in the past. Sky Bet odds: 33/1.
- Richie Porte (Aus): One of the top two or three climbers in the world. Sky Bet odds: 80/1.
2012: Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz).
2008: Samuel Sanchez (Esp).
2004: Paolo Bettini (Ita).
2000: Jan Ullrich (Ger).
1996: Pascal Richard (Sui).
SELECTED TEAMS AND RIDERS
Australia: Rohan Dennis, Richie Porte, Simon Clarke, Glenn O'Shea.
Austria: Georg Preidler, Stefan Denifl.
Belgium: Philippe Gilbert, Serge Pauwels, Greg Van Avermaet, Laurens De Plus, Tim Wellens.
Colombia: Esteban Chaves, Sergio Henao, Miguel Angel Lopez, Jarlinson Pantano, Rigoberto Uran.
Czech Republic: Jan Barta, Leopold Konig, Zdenek Stybar, Petr Vakoc.
Estonia: Tanel Kangert, Rein Taaramae.
France: Romain Bardet, Julian Alaphilippe, Warren Barguil, Alexis Vuillermoz.
Germany: Emanuel Buchmann, Simon Geschke, Tony Martin, Maximilan Levy.
Great Britain: Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, Adam Yates, Steve Cummings, Ian Stannard.
Ireland: Dan Martin, Nicolas Roche.
Italy: Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Aru, Damiano Caruso, Diego Rosa, Alessandro De Marchi.
Lithuania: Ramunas Navardauskas, Ignatas Konovalovas.
Netherlands: Tom Dumoulin, Wout Poels, Bauke Mollema, Steven Kruijswijk.
Norway: Edvald Boasson Hagen, Lars Petter Nordhaug, Vegard Stake Laengen, Sven Erik Bystrom.
Poland: Michal Kwiatkowski, Rafal Majka, Maciej Bodnar, Michal Golas.
Portugal: Rui Costa, Andre Cardoso, Jose Mendes, Nelson Oliveira.
Russia: Sergei Chernetcki, Pavel Kochetkov.
Spain: Alejandro Valverde, Joaquim Rodriguez, Ion Izagirre, Imanol Erviti, Jonathan Castroviejo.
Switzerland: Fabian Cancellara, Michael Albasini, Steve Morabito, Sebastien Reichenbach.
United States: Taylor Phinney, Brent Bookwalter.