The time is upon us for the greatest collection sports to take place, and cycling has it’s seat at the table. For many fans of the Olympics, the Velodrome will peak their interest, however for the more hardcore cycling fans, we will be casting our eyes to the imminent majesty that is the Road Race and the Time Trial from the world of Road Cycling. Many of your favourites are attending the Olympics and you can find the start list for the races here. (Link courtesy of Cyclingnews.com). This piece will give you some of my personal favourites to take their chance at Glory.
First up we have the Road Race, which at the time of writing is around half an hour from its beginning. The Time Trial is later in the week. The Road Race is our focus to start with, and while there are many riders from many teams here to race for the title, it is still a race for your country, therefore unlikely alliances will be in play here. Fierce rivals such as Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic will have their instructions and will know the tactics they must employ so that Slovenia can have a chance at Gold. Without further ado, here are my favourites for the chance at Olympic glory.
Men’s Olympic Road Race
Looking fantastic during the Tour de France, Kasper Asgreen is making his debut at the Olympics in Japan. He seemed to have constant new bursts of energy which was helped by the success of his teammates. He is likely to be eyeing this as he spent most of his time in the hills of France helping to protect Mark Cavendish and bring him home. That proved a huge success, however this race feels different, this race feels like he will lead the Danish charge to take Gold.
Greg Van Avermaet
Can you rule out this man, especially as he is the current reigning champion? Well, no absolutely not! Van Avermaet is the Olympic Champion and you do not get that honour without being the best on the day and one of the best in the world. In most of the Olympic events, your route to the final can go through favourites or outsiders, you be lucky or unlucky in the draw, but tactics are important. In the Road Race, while tactics are vastly important, you have to the best on the day, there is no hiding and Van Avermaet does not hide.
After playing Domestique to eventual Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar for the last few weeks, Hirschi will be itching to race his own race. We know he can climb and more importantly, we know he can race. This event is all about the riders ability to race on the day. This is a sportif, not a stage race, the riders need to get this spot on, and Hirschi is absolutely one to watch.
Men’s Olympic Time Trial
I cannot look past Ganna to take this title. I would review the chances of some of the other stars of Time Trials like Wout Van Aert and Tom Dumoulin however when Ganna is firing on all cylinders no one is close. He has thoroughly dominated Time Trials when given the opportunity, and if he has good form on the day, he will destroy the competition. An important side note is that Ganna does not have to chase down the chance at glory in the Road Race so will be as fresh as possible.
Favourites set to fall?
The names listed above, for the most part do not include the favourites and I have my reasons for this, multiple if you will. Firstly the big names like Geraint Thomas and Primoz Roglic had heavy crashes in the recent Tour de France, the latter of these names left the Tour due to injuries sustained in this crash. While they are some of the toughest athletes in the world, it is hard to not think that will not play a factor here.
Another pair of names, Wout Van Aert and Tadej Pogacar, are the favourites in both the Road Race and the Time Trial and this is where I can see them coming unstuck. Will such a heavy focus on both these races, it is easy to see how both could be too much, especially with the length and difficulty on the roads. A significant amount of the athletes only have one race to prepare for, whereas both Pogacar and Van Aert are preparing for both. Knowing the single eventers can give everything, while the dual event racers will need to conserve and recover. Picking both rides my result in disappointment.
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