The Olympics are here again! For cyclists, the excitement starts immediately because the Road Race is today! Pretty much everyone is trying to figure out how to beat the British Dream Team, but I would caution that racing against one specific team or rider is often a bad plan. You can’t go into a race trying to figure out how to prevent someone else from winning, but rather how to bring the race into your own hands. How are you going to take control of the race and put everyone else on the defensive? Where and when are your best chances to leverage your strengths? And if all else fails, make the race as hard as you possibly can so the winner has to ride through you to beat you.
Mark Cavendish has a very good chance of adding an Olympic Gold Medal to his World Championship stripes, but if the race comes down to a sprint he’ll have to beat some very fast competition from Andre Greipel, Peter Sagan, Matthew Goss, and American Tyler Farrar. Some people have forgotten about Tom Boonen, too. He had a great spring campaign, sat out the Tour de France and broke a rib in a crash at the Tour of Poland. He’s probably the biggest mystery coming into the Olympics, but in a high-pressure, one-day race you can never count out a guy who has already won both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix on multiple occasions. To avoid a sprint finish, there are likely to be a lot of attacks on the final climb of Box Hill and the run in to the finish after that.
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In the Olympics, more so than in normal pro events, the structure of the race tips it in the favor of the opportunists and away from the field sprinters. In the Tour de France, the one-day Classics, and even World Championships, you have a much larger team in the race. It is far more difficult to control the Olympic Road Race than a normal pro race because you only have a 5-man team (and some nations have even fewer riders).
With a 5-man team you can’t put 3-4 riders on the front to ride at 50km/h for 60 kilometers to shut down the breakaway. You can do that in the Tour de France because you still have another 3-4 riders who can bring the speed up to 60km/h for the final five kilometers to the finishing straight. As a result, the Olympic Road Race is one of the most ‘open’ races in the sport. Between the smaller teams and lack of race radios, individual riders or small groups of riders have a greater chance of successfully out-foxing the sprinters. Among the riders who have to be considered as potential winners in a solo or small group scenario are Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Fabian Cancellara, Philipe Gilbert, or perhaps even Tejay Van Garderen or the cagey veteran Chris Horner!
As the Olympics proceed, we’ll also be watching for great performances from CTS Athletes. Katerina Nash (Czech Republic) has finished on the podium at the last few World Cup mountain bike races, and she is a medal contender in the Olympic XC Mountain Bike Race. Erin Densham (Australia) won the ITU World Triathlon Series last weekend and heads into the Olympics as a medal favorite in the triathlon event!
And then there’s the US Women’s Field Hockey Team. CTS has been working with the team for about two years, with CTS Coach Renee Eastman taking the lead. Renee spent a lot of time analyzing data from the team’s games and practices, evaluating the physical, nutritional, and hydration demands of the sport, and advising the athletes and team’s coaching staff on ways to improve performance. The US Women’s Field Hockey Team wasn’t expected to even qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games, but this very committed and hard-working team exceeded expectations and made it! Renee did a great job contributing to the team’s progress, and we look forward to watching the team compete in London.
Closer to home, I hope you’ll check out the “CTS Bucket List Challenge” on Strava (http://app.strava.com/challenges/cts-bucket-list-challenge). If you’re not familiar with Strava, it’s an app/site where you can log your rides and see where you rank against other riders on defined segments (hill climbs, point-to-points, local loops) in your area. They also have Challenges, and CTS is challenging you to ride 683 miles – the full distance of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge – from August 20-26 (7 days). Registering for the challenge is free, and you’ll get virtual badges for completing 25/50/75/100% of the challenge. When you finish, you’ll get a commemorative patch from us, and all the bragging rights that go with it.
I’m doing the CTS Bucket List Challenge, only I’ll be doing it on the same roads as the pros and only a few hours ahead of them during the CTS USA Pro Cycling Challenge Race Experience. If I can do it, at altitude, with all those climbs, and with the pro peloton breathing down my neck, then you can rearrange your schedule for that week and do it too! Need some motivation for August and a great endurance block? Who doesn’t? Go to www.strava.com to register for the CTS Bucket List Challenge today!
Have a great weekend!
Carmichael Training Systems