The cycling calendar is usually quite a fixed affair, with the same races appearing every season generally in the same familiar slot. But every four years a spanner gets thrown in the works in the form of the Olympic Games.
2016 is, of course, one of those years, and between August 6-10 this year the world’s best riders on the road will convene in Rio de Janeiro in the hope of adding an Olympic medal to their palmares, with the world’s best riders on the track taking centre stage between August 11-16.
BMX (August 17-19) and mountain bike cross-country (August 20-21) complete the cycling events.
The most comparable annual race on the road calendar to the Olympic road race is the World Championships. Both events feature a circuit-based road race and lengthy time-trial, and in both events riders compete for their nation rather than their trade team.
Unlike the Worlds and most other races, where failure one year is at least compensated by the chance to try again in 12 months’ time, riders only get a few shots at winning an Olympic medal throughout their entire careers, and consequently the event attracts stellar fields.
Greg Van Avermaet wins the men’s road race at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
Both road race routes were tough and hilly. The riders tackled two circuits, the first featuring the narrow Grumari climb (1.2km with average gradient of 7 per cent and a peak of 13 per cent) and the dragging Grota Funda (which rarely strays from its 4.5 per cent average over its 2.1km distance).
The toughest obstacle was saved for the second circuit, which featured a much longer climb (8.5km in total) in the form of the Vista Chinesa, with an average gradient of 5.7 per cent. Tackled once by the women and three times by the men, this is where the decisive moves were made.
Owain Doull, Ed Clancy, Steven Burke and Sir Bradley Wiggins on the podium after winning the gold medal in the 2016 Olympic team pursuit (Watson)
Some of the heroes of London 2012, including Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, are now retired, but plenty of big names remain. Defending omnium champion Laura Trott returns with four more years’ experience under her belt (she was just 20 when she won gold in London), as does defending individual sprint champion Jason Kenny.
Also returning to the track are two of British cycling’s biggest names – Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins. Cavendish is targeting the omnium in attempt to finally land the Olympic gold medal he craves having missed out at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012. Wiggins successfully claimed his eighth medal (in the team pursuit) to become Britain’s most decorated Olympian.
Team GB’s main rivals are likely to be the usual suspects in the shape of France and Australia. The French dominated the men’s events at the 2015 World Championships with Gregory Bauge and Francois Pervis claiming two golds each, while Australia starred in the women’s events with Annette Edmondson twice edging out British opposition to win a couple of golds and the evergreen Anna Meares adding one more to her huge career tally.
16:00-16:16 (20:00-20:16) Men’s Team Sprint Qualifying Report
16:19-17:10 (20:19-21:10) Women’s Team Pursuit Qualifying Report
17:10-17:23 (21:10-21:23) Men’s Team Sprint First Round
17:23-18:19 (21:23-22:19) Men’s Team Pursuit Qualifying Report
18:21-18:29 (22:21-22:29) Men’s Team Sprint Finals Report
18:35-18:45 (22:35-22:45) Men’s Team Sprint Victory Ceremony Report
16:00-16:14 (20:00-20:14) Women’s Team Sprint Qualifying
16:14-16:50 (20:14-20:50) Men’s Sprint Qualifying Report
16:52-17:17 (20:52-21:17) Men’s Team Pursuit First Round
17:17-17:28 (21:17-21:28) Women’s Team Sprint First Round
17:30-17:58 (21:30-21:58) Men’s Sprint 1/16 Finals Report
18:00-18:08 (22:00-22:08) Women’s Team Sprint Finals Report
18:08-18:18 (22:08-22:18) Men’s Sprint 1/16 Final Repechages
18:20-18:50 (22:20-22:50) Men’s Team Pursuit Finals Report
18:50-19:00 (22:50-23:00) Women’s Team Sprint Victory Ceremony
19:00-19:10 (23:00-23:10) Men’s Team Pursuit Victory Ceremony
August 13 Session 1
10:00-10:21 (14:00-14:21) Women’s Keirin First Round
10:23-10:42 (14:23-14:42) Men’s Sprint 1/8 Finals
10:44-11:05 (14:44-15:05) Women’s Keirin First Round Repechages
11:07-11:15 (15:07-15:15) Men’s Sprint 1/8 Final Repechages
11:17-11:40 (15:17-15:40) Women’s Team Pursuit First Round
August 17: BMX men’s and women’s seeding runs
August 18: BMX men’s quarter finals
August 19: BMX men’s and women’s finals
August 20: Women’s mountain bike cross-country
August 21: Men’s mountain bike cross-country
Current Olympic Champions (2012)
Men road race: Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz)
Women road race: Marianne Vos (Ned)
Men time trial: Bradley Wiggins (GBr)
Women time trial: Kristin Armstrong (USA)
Men sprint: Jason Kenny (GBr)
Women sprint: Anna Meares (Australia)
Men team sprint: Great Britain (Hindes, Hoy, Kenny)
Women team sprint: Germany (Vogel, Welte)
Men keirin: Chris Hoy (GBr)
Women keirin: Victoria Pendleton (GBr)
Men team pursuit: Great Britain (Clancy, Thomas, Burke, Kennaugh)
Women team pursuit: Great Britain (King, Trott, Rowsell)
Men omnium: Lasse Norman Hansen (Den)
Women omnium: Laura Trott (GBr)
Men: Maris Strombergs (Lat)
Women: Mariana Pajon (Col)
Mountain bike cross-country
Men: Jaroslav Kulhavy (Cze)
Women: Julie Bresset (Fra)
Men’s road race
2012: Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz)
2008: Samuel Sanchez (Spa)
2004: Paolo Bettini (Ita)
2000: Jan Ullrich (Ger)
1996: Pascal Richard (Sui)
Women’s road race
2012: Marianne Vos (Ned)
2008: Nicole Cooke (GBr)
2004: Sara Carrigan (Aus)
2000: Leontien Zijlaard (Ned)
1996: Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli (Ita)