The poor old Commonwealth Games: they play second fiddle to the Olympics and – for cycling fans – the Tour de France. So why should we tune in to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games from now until August 3?
Well, for starters, we’re good at it. In fact, since their inception as the British Empire Games in 1930, Australia has placed first in 12 of the 18 Commonwealth Games. And we’ve hauled in the highest number of medals overall, including a whopping 92 gold medals for cycling.
Plus, with three cycling events covering mountain biking, road and track competitions, cycling fans are spoilt for choice in the spectator department. Here’s our breakdown of each discipline, including the Aussie cyclists to watch.
On July 29, riders will battle it out on a purpose-built cross-country course in the challenging Cathkin Braes Country Park. This is only the third time mountain biking has been included as an event, and the course has been designed with demanding terrains and thrills in mind. Riders will tackle such ominously named sections as the ‘Brig O’Doom’ and ‘Broken Biscuits’, and the competitors will need technique, endurance and fearlessness to be the first over the line.
Aussies to watch: Keep an eye out for Rebecca Henderson and Daniel McConnell. Both riders won gold at the recent BMC Racer Bike Cup in Switzerland, beating top international contenders.
The city of Glasgow will become a racetrack for the road events, with the time trial on 31 July and the road race on 1 August. This event is held just days after the conclusion of the Tour de France which could have an interesting impact on competitors such as Mark Renshaw, Rohan Dennis and Simon Clarke.
In terms of distance, men will ride 40km in the time trial and women will cover 30km. In the road race, the course is a 14km circuit, where men will complete a total of 168km over 12 laps, and women will tackle 98km over seven laps.
Aussies to watch: In the team event, Caleb Ewan, Mark Renshaw and Simon Clarke are tough contenders on the road. In the time trial, Rohan Dennis, Luke Durbridge and Michael Hepburn are looking strong.
From 24–27 July, 12 track events will take place at the Emirates Arena and the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, named after the UK’s most successful gold-medal Olympian.
Both the sprint and endurance races require riders to complete laps of the velodrome in the fastest time possible, across a mix of solo, tandem and team events. It’s a dangerous, punishing pursuit, and it’s always exciting to watch.
Aussies to watch: Team leader Anna Meares could become Australia’s most successful cyclist if she comes away with at least one win. Shane Perkins is back for his third Commonwealth Games and 21-year-old debutant Matthew Glaetzer is also on his game, having beaten Britain’s triple Olympic champion Jason Kenny in Mexico and remaining undefeated in the International Track Series in Adelaide in June.