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.

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>>

2004 Men’s Olympic champion: Julien Absalon (Fra)
2004 Women’s Olympic champion: Gunn-Rita Dahle (Nor)

2008 Men’s World champion: Christoph Sauser (Sui)
2008 Women’s World champion: Marie-Helene Premont (Can)

Saturday, August 23, 2008
8-10.15am (BST): Women’s cross-country MTB
TBC: Men’s cross-country MTB

Official Beijing 2008 MTB homepage


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