The last two cycling events of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China – the men’s and women’s cross-country mountain bike races – take place on Saturday, August 23.

Having been postponed from Friday due to bad weather, the women now set off on Saturday morning ahead of the men. In front of them will be a compact 4.5km circuit based around the Laoshan Mountain, near the velodrome. The course includes both natural and man-made obstacles that will test the riders to the full.

Our colleagues over at Mountain Bike Rider magazine have ridden the course and presented a circuit assessment with photos.

Team Great Britain are represented in the men’s event by Oli Beckingsale and Liam Killeen (pictured). Julien Absalon (France) is the defending Olympic champion and will be difficult to beat. Current World Champ Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) is likely to be Absalon’s main challenger.

Having placed fourth in the 2008 MTB World Championships in Italy, Killeen is an outside bet for a medal. It has been his long-term aim to win a medal at the 2008 Games and on his day is a very strong rider, and the course certainly suits him.

GB has no representative in the women’s event having failed to qualify for a place – the only cycling event not to have a British rider in attendance. Defending Olympic champ Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja (Norway), 2008 World Champ Marie-Helene Premont (Canada) and Margarita Fullana (Spain) are the riders to watch. In total, 30 women and 50 men are on the start lists.

GREAT BRITAIN’S RIDERS

Name: Oliver Beckingsale


Age: 32

From: Backwell, Somerset

Titles held: 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007 British National Mountain Biking Champion

Full rider profile>>

Name: Liam Killeen

Age: 26

From: Malvern

Titles held: 2003 European Cup; 2003 UK National Points series; 2006 Commonwealth Champion; 2006 British National Series Champion

Full rider profile>>

OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS

2004 Men’s Olympic champion: Julien Absalon (Fra)

2004 Women’s Olympic champion: Gunn-Rita Dahle (Nor)

WORLD CHAMPIONS

2008 Men’s World champion: Christoph Sauser (Sui)

2008 Women’s World champion: Marie-Helene Premont (Can)

MTB SCHEDULE

Saturday, August 23, 2008

8-10.15am (BST): Women’s cross-country MTB

TBC: Men’s cross-country MTB

EXTERNAL LINKS

Official Beijing 2008 MTB homepage

OLYMPIC GAMES 2008: TRACK

Track day five in pictures

Track day five summary

Wiggins and Cav miss out in Madison

Gold for Hoy and Pendleton, silver for Kenny

Track day four in pictures

Preview: Day five at the Laoshan

Brad on Cav: He’s like a schoolkid he’s so up for it

Day four as it happened: Team pursuit gold and another world record

Day three summary: Gold for Romero. Pendleton, Hoy in charge in sprints. Kenny the revelation

From rower to cyclist: Romero takes an emotional gold

Brits smash world team pursuit record in round one

Tough day for the Dutch

Preview: Monday at the Laoshan

Day two in pictures

Sunday’s action as it happened

Preview: Sunday at the Laoshan

Day two at the track: Summary of the action

Hoy and Edgar clean up in the Keirin

Wiggins gets pursuit gold, Burke wins bronze

Newton storms to bronze in points race

Saturday’s action as it happened: Two gold, a silver and two bronze for Britain

Blog: Life in Laoshan

Day one in pictures

Brits blast to team sprint gold

Day one at the track: Summary of the action

Friday’s action as it happened: Gold for team sprint trio; Wiggins, Houvenaghel and Romero well in control

Burke blasts to new individual pursuit PB

British track stars raring to go

What makes the Laoshan such a challenge

Picture special: CW takes you inside the Laoshan velodrome

Saturday’s preview

Friday’s preview

Can these legs make an Olympic champion?

Cavendish unlikely to ride individual pursuit

How many medals will Britain’s riders win?

OLYMPIC GAMES 2008: NEWS

Cooke and Thomas to get heroes’ welcome in Wales

Positive test for cyclist at Olympic Games

Bettini chasing second Olympic gold

Romero poses nude for ad

British quartet eyeing new world record

As Olympics approach two new drugs emerge

Beijing Blog

Beijing Blog 2

Beijing Blog 3

OLYMPIC GAMES 2008: ROAD

Picture special: Women’s time trial

Cancellara wins men’s time trial gold

Men’s time trial reaction: Steve Cummings on his ride

Women’s time trial reaction: I feel fantastic, says Pooley

Pooley wins silver in women’s time trial

Cooke’s secret was the skinsuit

What the papers say… about Nicole Cooke

Analysis: women’s road race

Gold for Nicole Cooke in Women?s road race

Reaction: It?s a dream to win Gold, says Cooke

Women’s Olympic road race picture special

Sanchez gives Spain gold in thrilling men?s road race

Who is Samuel Sanchez?

Tactical analysis: Reading the men?s Olympic road race

British riders suffer in hot and humid Olympic road race

Rebellin misses out on golden birthday

Brailsford confident ahead of women?s road race

OLYMPIC GAMES 2008: GUIDE

Olympic Games 2008 homepage>>

Olympics: latest news>>

Olympics cycling results>>

Cycling event schedule>>

Great Britain rider profiles>>

Cycling event guide>>

Photo gallery>>

Every British cycling medal ever won at the Olympic Games

From paupers to kings: The lottery funded revolution>>

Track results at the Worlds and Olympics 2004-2008