After four years of waiting the Rio Olympics finally gets underway with a packed opening day but the main attraction today is the Men’s Road race which features the likes of Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali, Alejandro Valverde and many more.
With plenty of familiar faces the race will have a one-day Classic feel to it; but for some the Olympics is the pinnacle of their career, so today will be unrelenting. And with the course being unlike most pro one-day races, it’s hard to predict who will come out on top.
But for Team GB they seem to have a rider for every race situation that might arise; there five man team is packed with talent; Froome headlines the team, but beside him there is Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard, Adam Yates, and Steve Cummings all capable of winning Olympic Gold this afternoon.
GB will have to be wary of other threats; Nibali comes into the Olympic looking to taste victory after what has been a good summer after winning his native Giro D’Italia earlier this summer. And then on the Spanish team Valverde is someone who is more than capable of causing a shock and picking up a victory.
The route – 237.5km course is one of the toughest to be seen at a one-day showpiece
When the route got announced, many riders expressed their opinion on how tough it is. There is a mixture of terrain, but the majority of it is climbing, so whether a sprinter will take victory along the Copacabana is something we will have to wait for in anticipation.
There are two main components of the course; first the riders will tackle the ‘Grumari circuit’ four times which includes the Grumari climb (1.2km, 9% gradient) and then the second climb in this tough circuit is the 2.1km Grota Funda climb. Then the riders will move onto the second circuit, the ‘Vista Chinesa’ one which includes an 8.9km climb as well as 2km section of cobblestones.
And then to finish off the riders will have a 20km run-in to the finish which is in the rather picturesque setting of Copacabana beach.
The contenders – Froome not necessarily one of the favourites
As mentioned there are plenty of riders that will be in contention today, one person who hasn’t been mentioned is BMC’s and Belgium’s Greg Van Avermaet – he is a strong one-day racer that can do everything, and if his legs feel good he will be up there in the final reckoning.
A lot of talk has been about the three-time Tour winner adding a Gold medal to his palmares, but today it might not play out in the 31-year-old’s favour and that’s why GB have taken a squad to cover most eventualities.
But with Froome abilities, you can’t doubt the Briton for one second, even if his record in professional one-day races isn’t the best.
But with the team he has around him, everything looks set for him and company to bring home Team GB’s first gold medal of the Olympic Games.