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Olympic news for September 30
Last hurrah for Armstrong
Today's race against the clock will be the last competition for Lance Armstrong this year, as he definitely will not be riding the World Championships in Plouay. Had it not been for this race, he said that he would have stopped after the Tour de France this year.
Despite going into the race as the odds on favourite, victory is not assured for Armstrong. Jan Ullrich is unquestionably in peak form, and is highly motivated after his win on Wednesday. Two Olympic gold medals would make very nice additions to the mantelpiece. Armstrong on the other hand has appeared to be quite relaxed all week, and his tactics in the road race demonstrated this. Too much backing off, or all part of the plan? By 1530 Australian ESST everyone will know.
Live coverage starts 0915 Australian ESST (0015 European CEST, 1815 US EDT)
Weather update - warm conditions
Yesterday saw a mini-heat blast hit Sydney after westerly winds pushed the temperature up to 30 degrees Celsius. Ullrich, Olano and co. were enjoying the sun as they watched Diana Ziliute and Edita Pucinskaite circle on their TT bikes, while chatting in the Centennial Park kiosk.
Jan Ullrich and Andreas Klöden had first tested the course over two laps (despite the fact that it goes one-way in the wrong direction in certain parts). Both agreed that there were more corners than the road race, and that the cutting out of the climb will change the nature of the course.
Jan Ullrich wants another gold medal, and will use a 54x11 as his biggest gear. He will not have to suffer in the heat for it though, as temperatures today should be approximately 25 degrees, with light winds changing from the south to the northeast in the afternoon.
Australian rider Anna Wilson is looking to improve on her fourth place on Tuesday, and believes the tight and twisting course will suit her riding style, which has been further honed this year by racing the US criterium circuit.
"I think the course is really good for me. There's lots of tight corners and long drags, and you have to be quick out the corners and able to get up to speed quickly," she told cyclingnews.com one day prior to the event.
As for the efforts of the road race on Tuesday, Wilson said "we've had three days off and I don't think anyone will be feeling the effects of the road race. We only did 120k's which is a pretty good hit-out for us."
The Australian champion's TT bike will run a 53/42 and 11/21 front/rear gear combination, and Wilson expects she will need to use the small chain ring on the climb up Darley Road and inside Centennial Park.
Despite the absence of sponsor's logos from their jerseys as they were photographed on the podium, most people were well aware who they were and which team they rode for. It was not just Germany, Kazakhstan and Germany that stood there, but Telekom 1-2-3. Their bikes, helmets, and radios were recognizable as Telekom team issue, even if the name on the bike had been masked out just minutes before the race started.
Interestingly, the German Telecommunications giant stopped sponsoring the Olympic team after Atlanta. Therefore, Telekom's director Jürgen Kindervater couldn't believe his luck when he saw Ullrich, Vinokourov and Klöden make the final decisive breakaway to win gold silver and bronze. An impressive marketing coup for a little extra cost (they reportedly paid Walter Godefroot, Rudy Pevenage, the German women's team, and a few others about $US 10,000 per head to be in Sydney - the Telekom company's total marketing budget is of the order of $US 250 million per year).
They spend some $US 10 million per year on their cycling team, and have made a commitment for the next three years to stay at the top. At the moment, they are ranked number two in the world behind Mapei, but have a chance to overtake them next year after the Italian team lose some of their top riders.
Jan Ullrich, Andreas Klöden and Alexandre Vinokourov still have the time trial to come today, with the possibility of another "Team Telekom Gold".
Llaneras given a hero's welcome
Spanish gold medallist in the points race, Juan Llaneras, has returned home to a large welcome at the airport in Palma de Mallorca. Over a hundred people, including several local officials, greeted Llaneras as he stepped off the plane before heading to his home town of Porreres.
He told the assembled crowd that he was very happy with his gold, as it made up for disappointment in Atlanta. He hoped that it would help to raise the profile of track cycling in Mallorca.
Llaneras will receive a further tribute upon arrival in Porreres.