Guide to Olympic Cycling: Road

Guide to Olympic Cycling: Road

Of all the Olympic Cycling events, Road is probably the one you're most familiar with. It's a pretty straight forward mass-start road race, however, it also includes a time trial element. There are four gold medals up for grabs across the men's and women's events. You'll see both light race-style road bikes as well as the more comfortable endurance style - find out more about the differences here.

If you're inspired by the Olympics and keen to give road cycling a go yourself, check out our great range of road bikes.

Read on to discover more about Olympic Road Cycling and Aussies to look for.

What time is it on?

Times are in AEST. If you're viewing on mobile, you'll need to switch your phone to landscape mode to see the full guide.

If you just want to see the highlights, Channel 7 will be running a nightly recap show at 7pm (AEST) on its main channel.

Date Start Time End Time Discipline Event
6th Aug 10:20pm 5:18am Road Men's Race
7th Aug 1:05am 5:38am Road Women's Race
10th Aug 9:20pm 2:23am Road Time Trial

Bikes appeared in the mid 18th century and were taken up as a popular alternative transport. France is the birthplace of modern road race cycling, with the first cross city competition held in 1869 - the Paris-Rouen which ironically was won by an Englishman. Road cycling first appeared in the Olympic Games in Athena 1896 where the riders raced 87km from Athens to Marathon, the same route as the marathon runners.

The Event

The Olympic Road Cycling event is broken up into two parts - Road Race and Time Trial.

In the Road Race event all riders begin together, this is where strategy and teamwork is key. Riders will need to complete a course winding through the stunning and challenging roads of Rio, 241.5km for the men and 141km for the women. You’ll find the first three individual riders over the line up on the winning podium. While speed is important, riders are in the saddle for an extended period of time so a comfortable, lightweight bike designed for endurance riding plays an integral role in winning this race - as does strategy. Riders, not necessarily from the same country, will work together in groups to protect their team leader from wind and to allow them to breakaway from the peloton to sprint to the finish.

The Road Time Trial on the other hand is all about speed - you’ll need to be lighter, quicker and more aerodynamic than your competitors to come out on top for this event. Riders begin the race individually at regular intervals and the aim of the game is complete the course in the quickest time. The shorter course is 54.5km for the men and 29.8km for the women. Athletes will be riding light, aerodynamic bikes that are built for speed. There will be plenty of action and drama as riders race against the clock to finish with the fastest time.

Did you know?

The longest Olympic Road Cycling event was held in Stockholm in 1912, at 320km it took cyclists 10 hours to complete.

The Course

The Road Race will take place in Fort Copacabana, with riders taking in the stunning views of Rio over 241.5km. The men’s race takes on 13km of mostly flats before heading to four laps of the Grumari circuit. They’ll then tackle the technical climbs of Canoas/Vista Chinesa three times before looping back to Fort Copacabana to race to the finish. This Canoas/Vista Chinesa section will be the most challenging with an 8.9km climb followed by a 6km descent. The women’s race follows the same course with only two laps of the Grumari circuit and one of the Canoas/Vista Chinesa loop for a total of 141km. There will be 2km of challenging cobbles in both courses.

The Road Time Trial will begin in Pontal, taking on the same Grumari circuit as the Road Race. In the interest of rider safety there will be no cobblestone sections in the time trial. The men will complete two laps of this course for a total of 54.5km and the women will complete one for a total of 29.8km. While not as challenging as the Road Race climb, the Time Trial course does include a 1.2km climb that riders will need to tackle at speed to have any hope of recording the fastest time.

Aussies to look for

Men’s - Richie Porte, Simon Clarke and Rohan Dennis

Women’s - Katrin Garfoot, Amanda Spratt, Gracie Elvin and Rachel Neylan

Are we a medal chance?

While Rio will be Richie Porte’s Olympic debut, the 31-year-old Tassie local is set to make a big impact at the Games. Ranked within the top ten on the Grand Tour circuit, Porte played a crucial role in Chris Froome’s 2013 Tour de France victory as a part of Team Sky. He’s off to a flying start this year coming second in both the Australian Championship time trial and the Tour Down Under. He’s the one to watch.

A strong finish in fourth at the 2016 World Champions time trial has Olympic debutant Katrin Garfoot on the right foot heading into Rio.

After a shocking non-place due to torrential rain in London 2012, Amanda Spratt is looking to make a comeback. She’s the current national road race champion and with the taste of gold from both the Australian Championships and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, she’s got the drive to make big strides towards the podium this year.

Cycling at the Olympics

Find out everything you've ever wanted to know about all the awesome Cycling events at the Olympics:

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