Aussie men have high hopes on demanding Rio roads
5 July 2016
CYCLING – ROAD: Three world class riders have been tasked with taming the arduous roads of Rio after they were selected to the men’s road cycling section of the Australian Olympic Team for the 2016 Games on Tuesday.
The course is set to be one of the hardest in Olympic memory with equal measures of teamwork, skill and tenacity expected if athletes are to cross the finish line as Olympic Champions.
London 2012 track silver medallist Rohan Dennis and regular Grand Tour contender Richie Porte will compete in both the road race and time trial events in Rio. The duo has proven in recent seasons that they will both be well in contention for a time trial medal while, as it has been in the past, the Olympic road race remains open to the majority of the field.
They’re joined in the road race by Simon Gerrans, who will wear the green and gold at his third Games, and a fourth rider who will also compete in the road race but will be selected from another cycling discipline.
Having lined up for Australia in both the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, Gerrans’ knows there is nothing quite like an Olympic Games.
“Now going into my third Games, I think it’s finally starting to sink in how much of an honour it is to represent your country at the Olympic Games and be part of what will be such a prestigious event,” said the 36-year-old, who alongside Porte and Dennis is currently competing in the Tour de France.
“I am really looking forward to that again this year.”
Beginning and ending at the iconic Copacabana beach, the 256.4km men’s road course will no doubt be the toughest of Gerrans’ three Olympic campaigns.
“It’s a super demanding course but it’s a race with a bit of everything. There’s some flat sections that could potentially be a little bit windy, some pavé sections, some short steep climbs and some longer more demanding climbs.
“It’s a tough circuit and it’s going to take a very complete rider to win on it. Because it is so tough, it could turn into a race of attrition.”
Despite the course’s challenges, the Aussie veteran believes both he and his teammates can challenge for a medal in Rio.
“If it turns into a race of attrition, it very much suits my style.
“I’ve had some great success on some really long difficult one-day races, so if the race unfolds in that way it could be right up my alley. But if I was actually going to choose a course, this is probably a little bit in the difficult side for me, but anything can happen on the day.
“We’re going to go there with high hopes and big ambitions of getting a medal at the end of the day.”
The trio will finish the Tour de France on July 24 and then turn their focus to the opening day of competition in Rio on Saturday, August 6.
Porte and Dennis will then compete in the time trial which features two laps of a 29.8km course on Day 5 (Wednesday, August 10).
If our Aussie men are to ride onto the podium in Rio they will join Clyde Sefton (1972 – road race silver) and Michael Rogers (2004 – time trial bronze) as Australian Olympic road medallists.
These 3 athletes, along with the other 22 cycling athletes selected on Tuesday, take the overall 2016 Australian Olympic Team to 301 athletes from 22 sports, with an expected final Team of over 400 athletes. Complete biographies on all selected athletes here>>>
Men's road cycling team for Rio 2016: