All good things come to an end.
After 15 days, we saw 13 give us cycling events. We started on day one of the Olympics with the men’s road race and saw Olympic cycling bookended with the men’s mountain bike race today.
The morning was once again cloudless and beautiful. More than one person commented on the fact they finally realized the pollution that was so widely publicized must have been more hype than reality. I for one was pleased to have another clear pollution-free day. While the riders were not to contend with pollution, there was no hiding from the heat.
The women’s race, which was postponed due to torrential rain, started at 10am. American Georgia Gould got the hole-shot going into the first turn, but the pace was brutal and unfortunately she could not hold the position. Coming down the final steep descent Sabina Spitz lead the field, but the second rider stacked it at the top of the climb and those following had to slow to get around her, which opened a gap no one could close for the rest of the race. South African woman Yolande Speedy was the only rider astride a Trek, and while she struggled with the heat, she kept riding hard throughout the race. The American duo of Georgia Gould and Mary McConneloug rode hard throughout the race, appearing to fade at times, but charging hard at the end to not only pass one Chinese rider, but also the Austrian and New Zealander, who had a spectacular crash while trying to take a short cut through one of the more challenging parts of the course.
The men’s race started at 3pm in what seemed like the heat of the day. The favorites got off to a strong start, while Adam Craig struggled getting into his pedals and ended up in second to last going into the first corner….not where you want to be starting in one of the biggest races of your life. Coming into the final descent of the first lap Absalon was leading, former strong man Kileem struggled well back, as did Americans Todd Wells and Adam Craig. The second lap saw Craig charge hard and move up, while Wells faded and dropped several positions back. Absalon of course held strong throughout the day and ended with a gap of 1:07 over compatriot Peraud. Nino Schurter, recently crowned U23 World Champ, rounded out the medal stand.
Strongman of the day award goes to Bart Brentjens. Bart crashed recently and did serious damage to his wrist. The wrist was still bothering him when he arrived in
One big concern of the day was how easy would it be for people to see the race. With memories of the men’s and women’s road race fresh on people’s minds, many spectators were not sure if they would actually be able to see the race out on the course or if they would be relegated to the main plaza and watching to race on the jumbotron TV screen. As it turned out, the course was very open and spectators had easy access to all areas inside the venue. It was not only great for the spectators to be able to get right along the course, but the riders commented that it was encouraging to have people scattered everywhere cheering them, unlike last year’s Olympic test event where only a handful of spectators were allowed in to watch the race.
The day was capped off with a party at the Trek Laoshan Concept Store to celebrate the US Cycling team and also the BMX riders. With sponsors
Tomorrow will see the end of the Olympics. After 7 yrs of anticipation, it is hard to believe it all comes to an end in less than 24hrs. Thanks for reading and we will file our final report tomorrow.