It’s only a matter of hours and the Olympics Games kick off with one of the most anticipated (at least in cycling circles) principles: the road cycling. The race is going to be the pinnacle of the season, both in terms of its length (over 250 km) and it how fierce the battle will be fought for the coveted Olympic gold medal. As everything that could be said have been said in the last couple of weeks in every corner of the internet, we pulled together a few interesting and maybe lesser known facts about the race.
Photo: nelson oliveira / twitter
Most riders will ride on their usual bikes, the ones they ride on during the season. This will mean that certain teams will have an eclectic selection of bikes while the riders will be wearing the same jersey. A good example is Belgium, where Greg Van Avermaet and Philipp Gilbert will be on their BMC bikes, Tom Boonen and Stijn Vandenbergh will ride his Specialized while Jurgen Roelandts will be in the saddle of his Ridley.
Photo: @SophieSmith86 / twitter
Specialized decided to spice things up a bit and gave an orange Venge to all sponsored riders – it certainly is a distinct colour!
Team GB bikes
Photo: Cycling Weekly
Team GB opted to rode these strange looking bikes and they did so for a good reason. The bike was based on the bikes the track team has been using for years now and UK Sports Institute tweaked the bikes to accommodate gears and brakes while keeping it as aerodynamic as possible. The bikes might look a bit ugly but they are a part of the famous ‘marginal gains’ strategy, making sure that no stone was left unturned before the all important race on Saturday.
The brand police have not spared the cycling events. There are very strict rules that regulate logo allowances for bikes. A few example:
- One identification of the manufacturer is permitted on each side of either the stem, the handlebars OR the extensions, IF different from the manufacturer of the frame. Only the identification of the manufacturer of the stem, respectively the handlebars or extensions, is permitted.
- All crank sets may carry the identification as generally used on products sold through the retail trade during the period of 12 months prior to the Games.
- One identification of the manufacturer and one model name is permitted on each side of the frame. Only the identification of the manufacturer of the frame and the name of the frame model are permitted.
So expect bikes to be less busy visually than normally this weekend.
What does a track cyclist do among the starters of the road race? The culprit is a weird UCI rule that forces any rider doing the keirin race on the track to ride another event in the games. Normally, that other event would take place on the track but the German and the French teams didn’t pick up on this rule until it was too late and they had to shoehorn these ‘extra’ riders into other disciplines’ teams. While the German Hulk, Forsterman will give mountain biking racing a go, Bourgain has to start the race tomorrow or else he forfeits his right to participate at the keirin. Since his race efforts normally last for a minute, he will abandon the race tomorrow within minutes, as soon as the peloton rides past the Buckingham Palace. One can only hope that the UCI will sort this our for the next Games.
Photo: @TobyDeFrance / Twitter
Since the departure of Fiat from cycling sponsorship, Skoda have become the dominant car provider of pro teams – but not at the Games. All teams have been issued with BMW 3 Tourers, which will be an interesting sight, only Saxo Bank uses BMWs and they usually opt for X1s and X3s as team support vehicles.
Nationalities vs Teams
Photo by Brendan A. Ryan
While cyclists would ride for their country tomorrow, it will be interesting to see how (if at all) team loyalties will play a role. The most prominent example is probably Bernie Eisel who himself isn’t likely to win the race, therefore he might be willing to help out Cavendish and Team GB here and there. The same applies to Rigoberto Uran, who also rides for Team Sky – his help can come useful during those nine, cruel laps on Box Hill. It’s probably safe to say that no other team can match and rival Team GB’s unity and probably strength. The Belgian team is very strong on paper but it’s a question how much they will be willing (or able to) help each other. We’ll have the answer to these questions by this time tomorrow. Until then: GO CAV, GO TEAM GB!!