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28th Olympic Games - JO

Athens, Greece, August 14-28, 2004

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Can Roel Paulissen take Meirhaeghe's place?
Photo ©: Colin Meagher
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August 28: Men's Mountain Bike, 2hr 15min

Meirhaeghe's disgrace leaves men's race open

The men's cross-country mountain bike race concludes the Athens cycling program on Saturday. John Stevenson looks at the favourites on the off-road to gold.

Fifty riders will line up on Sunday for the third-ever Olympic men's mountain bike race. The first, in 1996, was won by Bart Brentjens (Netherlands) who battled the Atlanta heat for a historic victory. For that achievement, Brentjens was honoured with a knighthood by the Queen of the Netherlands, though he doesn't seem to insist on being referred to as Sir Bart.

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Gunn-Rita Dahle on her way to another World Cup win at Calgary
Photo ©: Colin Meagher
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August 27: Women's Mountain Bike, 2hr 15min

Pezzo wants three but Dahle stands in the way

The women's cross-country mountain bike race opens the final phase of the the Athens cycling program on Friday. John Stevenson looks at the favourites on the off-road to gold.

The women's mountain bike race holds the promise of a highly unusual double as defending champion Paola Pezzo seeks to claim a third Olympic gold after winning the inaugural event in Atlanta in 1996 and successfully defending her title in 2000 in Sydney.

However, Pezzo has been away from top-level racing for almost all of the intervening time; a new generation of riders has filled the gap and Pezzo won't find it easy to land her third title.

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Leontien Zijlaard - Van Moorsel
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
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August 20-25: Women's track events

That's Womens' business

Can Van Moorsel take gold from the road to the track?

By Karen Forman

3 km pursuit

Just three months have passed since, on a chilly night Down Under in Australia, New Zealander Sarah Ulmer modestly snatched the women's individual pursuit world record right from under reigning record holder and former world champion, Dutchwoman Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel's nose, when the pair faced off in the qualifying rounds

After setting the new record of 3.30.604 (Van-Moorsel's four year old record of 3.30.816 was set in a qualifying round at the Sydney 2000 Olympics), Ulmer then continued her winning run, taking the gold medal in an event the Dutch rider has made her specialty. In fact, after setting her record in Sydney, Van-Moorsel then went on to win the gold medal.

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Kilo favourite
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August 20-25: Men's track events

Eight Men's Olympic titles up for grabs

By Mal Sawford

Olympic Gold is arguably the most highly sought after trophy in the cycling world, and at the Athens Velodrome, eight Gold Medals are on offer over five days of competition. While some events have suffered from disappointing crowd numbers, Olympic organisers were delighted to announce that the entire track cycling program had sold out before the Games were under way.

The 2004 World Championships held in Melbourne, Australia in May doubled as the final Olympic qualifiers for most events. Based on performances in Melbourne, strong teams from Australia, France, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands are expected to dominate in Athens. Coaches have until the start of the competition to finalise their start lists, and in many cases like to keep their opponents guessing!

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Jan Ullrich (R) and Erik Zabel
Photo ©: AFP Photo
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August 18: Men's time trial, 48km

Men's time trial wide open

Dark horse Honchar threatens conventional wisdom

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

The Athens Olympic time trial course is an out and back 24km run that starts in the coastal town of Vouliagmeni in Attica. The race starts and finishes in front of town hall on Athinas Avenue, then heads south to the coastal road, past Variza beach and east to the turnaround at the Agia Marina. The parcours runs along the Aegean Sea and will be blown by the South-Southwest Meltemia winds that will increase as Wednesday afternoon continues. The men will ride two laps of the course.

Conventional wisdom says this time trial will see Jan 'The Man' Ullrich battle Tyler 'The Man From Marblehead' Hamilton for the gold medal.

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Jeannie Longo Ciprelli
Photo ©: AFP Photo
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August 18: Women's time trial, 24km

Small but elite field in women's road race

Power course favours the tough

By Kristy Scymgeour

Following undoubtedly the most exciting women's road race in Olympic history on Sunday, when attack after attack culminated in Australian Sara Carrigan taking the win in a two up sprint against Judith Arndt of Germany, the women will line up again tomorrow for the individual time trial.

Only 25 riders are on the start list with the majority of nations having two start spots and a few having just one, but the field is packed with riders who have strong medal chances. The women will complete one lap of the 24km course, which hugs the seafront between Vouliagmeni and Agia Marina. It is an out and back route that presents a couple of small climbs but the major obstacle will be the wind. Riders training on the course yesterday reported strong winds and conditions are expected to be the same today.

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England's Nicole Cooke (left) is a hot favourite
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August 15: Women's road race, 118.8km

Select band of favourites to make the running

With the reigning Olympic champion concentrating on the track this year, the women's road race will be a talent-packed battle of the giants. Kristy Scrymgeour looks at the contenders.

The second cycling event of the 2004 Games is the women's road race. Over the same 13.2km course as the men, the women race nine laps for a total of 118.8km and will start at 11am in the hottest part of the day.

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Jan Ullrich leads Andreas Kloeden and Alexandre Vinokourov in 2000
Photo: © AFP
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August 14: Men's Road Race, 222.7km

The top one day riders in Athens showdown

By Tim Maloney, European editor

Cycling has been a part of the modern Olympic Games since the beginning in 1896 and it's only fitting that the 222.7km Men's Olympic Road Race is the first medal event of the 2004 Olympiade. The Olympics is a unique event in the cycling universe, in that it's raced only every four years, providing few reference points for the competitors. Like the World Championship, the Olympics uses a national team format, but with fewer riders per squad, making the actual racing more difficult to control. Men's teams have a maximum of five riders, while women will have three per country on the starting line. With a broad participation of nations, the mix of experienced and inexperienced riders can sometimes cause problems.

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