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28th Olympic Games - JO
Athens, Greece, August 14-28, 2004
road race Women's
road race Men's
time trial Women's
Latest live report
Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Rob Jones
Men's Road Race - Complete live report
Live coverage starts: 11:45 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:45 CEST
Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the first cycling event of the 28th Olympic
Games, the 224 km men's road race, run over 17 laps of a 13.2 km circuit in
central Athens. The course is considered selective, with two climbs per lap
and not much in the way of flat road, but when it comes down to it, it's up
to the riders to make it hard.
There are 144 riders registered to start today, which is a medium sized peloton.
The teams are a maximum of five riders each, and that will surely influence
the tactics. Favourites include 2000 winner Jan Ullrich (Germany), his national
teammate Andreas Klöden (bronze in Sydney), and his trade teammate Alexandre
Vinokourov (Kazakhstan), who was the silver medalist in Sydney. All have been
in good form of late, and we can expect them to play a role today.
The biggest challenges will likely come from Italy, which has Paolo Bettini
as its spearpoint, and Spain, which has dual world champion Oscar Freire, reigning
world champion Igor Astarloa, and talented young gun Alejandro Valverde on its
roster. France, with the experience of Brochard, Virenque and Moreau and the
youth of Voeckler and Chavanel, should be able to figure, while Australia, with
Stuart O'Grady, Mick Rogers and Robbie McEwen has several options. Belgium (Peter
Van Petegem and Axel Merckx) and USA (Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Bobby
Julich, Levi Leipheimer and Jason McCartney) have strong teams as well.
For the Dutch, we have Erik Dekker and Max van Heeswijk as riders to watch,
while there will no doubt be riders from other nations such as Yaroslav Popovych
(Ukraine), Georg Totschnig (Austria), Thor Hushovd and Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Norway).
The weather today is just like any other day in Athens at this time of year:
Hot and sunny. At the moment it's around 36 degrees at the start and there's
not a cloud in the sky. There's also very little wind. The heat will play an
important role today, as there are many riders who simply can't handle hot conditions.
But defending champion Jan Ullrich isn't one of them.
12:46 EEST 1km/223.4km to go
And they're off! The Germans lead out the field at a steady pace, with McEwen
also on the front in the Aussie green and gold. Voeckler and Botero are also
12:49 EEST 3km/221.4km to go
The crowds today aren't huge, although there was a reasonable sized mob at the
start. Security has been very tight, as is normal during the Olympics, much
to the annoyance of the UCI and the journalists who are used to getting more
access to the riders.
The peloton is rolling along as one block, just getting used to the heat and
the course. Erik Dekker (Netherlands) is lurking down the back.
12:52 EEST 5km/219.4km to go
The bunch starts the first climb, and McEwen is already off the back looking
for some service. It looks like he is getting it from his team car.
The neutral service today is not being done by Shimano or Mavic, but the Greeks.
There's a crash at the back, and Igor Astarloa is down as is his teammate Ivan
Gutierrez. That's a disaster for the Spanish. There's also a Dutch rider - Boogerd?
Boogerd is clutching his collarbone/shoulder, and it doesn't look good. He's
getting treated by his team management. Astarloa is still lying next to the
barriers. The crash happened near the back of the bunch on the right hand side.
12:55 EEST 7km/217.4km to go
Meanwhile, at the front of the race, Victor Peña (Colombia) has a small gap
on a group of eight on the first climb. Pozzato (Italy) and Julich (USA) are
in the chased group, as is Voeckler (France).
13:00 EEST 10km/214.4km to go
Over the top of the climb, which is almost deserted of spectators, this group
has caught Peña and looks like becoming the early break. Michael Rich is there
for Germany, as is Yakovlev (Kazakhstan), Julich (USA), Voeckler (France) and
Pozzato (Italy). The bunch is rolling along at a more relaxed pace.
Gutierrez is finally on his bike again, and is attempting to chase back to the
13:03 EEST 12km/212.4km to go
McEwen is also back in the peloton after his early mechanical. The main bunch
is crossing the cobbled section of the course past the Acropolis.
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano has dropped back to help Jose Ivan Gutierrez as the
peloton nears the end of the first lap. They're back on. Gutierrez looks a little
The breakaway has been caught after sitting up.
13:09 EEST 14km/210.4km to go
The first lap is completed in 20'53, an average of 37.92 km/h. One of the Spanish
riders has definitely abandoned, and it looks like Astarloa (well it's his bike
anyway). That might mean that Gutierrez was the rider who got back on with Igor
Gonzalez de Galdeano.
Ullrich gets to the front for a "natural break".
13:11 EEST 16km/208.4km to go
Marlon Perez (Colombia), who was also involved in that early crash, has abandoned.
He's rolling across the line now, four minutes behind the bunch, which is still
13:15 EEST 19km/205.4km to go
Gutierrez now signals for the race doctor to clean him up, but it takes a while
for the message to get through. He finally gets some antiseptic cream, which
he rubs on his bruised legs and arms.
The head of the bunch is now tackling the climb for the second time, with Moreau
(France) and Rich (Germany) controlling things. Stangelj (Slovenia) and Voeckler
(FrancE) are well placed.
The pace picks up a little on the first part of the descent, but still no-one
The abandons today: Igor Astarloa (Spain) and Marlon Perez (Colombia). Michael
Boogerd also out, en route to the hospital.
13:23 EEST 23km/201.4km to go
Dekker is still lounging down the back as the bunch hits the cobbles past the
Acropolis for the second time. Magnus Bäckstedt (Swe) mounts a serious attack.
13:26 EEST 26km/198.4km to go
Bäckstedt opens up a nice gap over the bunch as he reaches the end of lap two
with a 30 second lead. But he'll need more company if this break is going to
Two laps are completed in 40'50, which means that last lap was just under 20
The bunch rolls across the line 38 seconds behind Bäckstedt. 15 laps to go.
13:31 EEST 29km/195.4km to go
Astarloa is looking very disappointed, as he contemplates getting into the ambulance.
He, together with Marlon Perez and Michael Boogerd, crashed on the first lap
We can also report that Tyler Hamilton (USA) was very stiff descending the stairs
from the sign in. His back is obviously still bothering him and it will be hard
on cobbles for him.
13:35 EEST 31km/193.4km to go
Magnus Bäckstedt (Sweden) is continuing his solo breakaway in the third lap,
as the peloton passes the feed zone, grabbing bidons along the way.
Bäckstedt has the team name on his bike taped up, as per Olympic rules. He rides
for Alessio, just in case anyone doesn't know :-) You can see the Bianchi brand
The Swede is on the steep part of the climb now.
13:38 EEST 34km/190.4km to go
Michael Rich (Germany) and Gorazd Stangelj (Slovenia) lead the peloton to the
top of the climb. The bunch is already strung out in a fairly long line.
Bäckstedt has 1'03 has he navigates the descent.
13:43 EEST 36km/188.4km to go
A slight correction: you can actually see the Bianchi brand on Bäckstedt's bike,
but not the Alessio decal. He rides for Alessio, but as it's not an official
Olympic sponsor, the rules say it has to be covered up.
Alessio. Alessio. Alessio.
Bäckstedt is now passing the Acropolis for the third time, exactly a lap after
he made his attack.
13:48 EEST 40km/184.4km to go
Bäckstedt is past the finish line for the third time (39.6 km) in 1'00'32, meaning
that last lap was done in 19'42 (40.2 km/h). The peloton is now 1'59 behind,
and not looking very interested in chasing. The heat will probably do the work
The crowds are certainly thick at the start/finish, but around most of the course,
the absence of people is quite remarkable.
13:52 EEST 45km/179.4km to go
An Italian rider takes advantage of the moderate pace to commune with the barriers
on the side of the road, as there are no trees.
the peloton is spread out across the road, about 15 wide. The Belgians, Van
Petegem and Vansevenant, are sitting well back in the field.
The heat is incredible, and it's going to be crucial to keep drinking today.
Bäckstedt rides up the first short climb, arms locked as he sits on the tops
of the bars.
Vladimir Karpets (Russia) has abandoned. He was also in the early crash.
13:56 EEST 46km/178.4km to go
The bunch passes the feed zone and there's a big traffic jam at the back as
riders make sure to get their bottles. At the front of the peloton there are
now four Aussie jerseys.
13:59 EEST 48km/176.4km to go
Michael Rich, Victor Peña and Thomas Voeckler lead the peloton up Lycabettus
Hill for the fourth time, stretching the peloton out on the narrow, twisty road.
The gap to Bäckstedt is now 2'20. He's going to need a lot more than that to
stay clear. This race is very tightly controlled at the moment.
14:03 EEST 51km/173.4km to go
Bäckstedt is back at the Acropolis, hands still on the tops as he rolls across
the light cobbles. The bunch is together, 2'30 behind.
14:06 EEST 53km/171.4km to go
Magnus Bäckstedt, the winner of this year's Paris-Roubaix, is at the end of
the fourth lap of the Olympic road race, having been on the attack for just
over two laps. He rolls up to the line, completing the 52.8 km in 1'21'02. His
last lap was a little slower: 20'30.
14:08 EEST 54km/170.4km to go
The peloton is now descending off Acropolis Hill, en route to the finish.
14:09 EEST 55km/169.4km to go
At the finish line at the end of lap three, the peloton led by Michael Rich
(Germany) is 3'13 behind the Swedish rider. Viatcheslav Ekimov is up there,
as are Peña, Stangelj and Voeckler.
14:13 EEST 57km/167.4km to go
Tyler Hamilton (USA) drops back to his team car for a bit. He's back in the
An update on the fauna: well, with the exception of a few souvlaki stands on
the course, we haven't seen much in the way of cows or other domesticated animals.
In fact, people are fairly thin on the ground today, mostly being clustered
on the climb and at the start/finish.
Bäckstedt grabs a bottle from a soigneur as he passes the team boxes for the
14:16 EEST 59km/165.4km to go
Bäckstedt tackles the twisty climb of Lycabettus Hill, out of the saddle, suffering
in the intense heat. The peloton is still 3 minutes back, once again navigating
the feed zone frenzy.
14:20 EEST 61km/163.4km to go
Rich is leading the peloton on the climb, with teammates Klöden and Ullrich
in tow. It looks like Julich is also up there for the USA and O'Grady for Australia.
The lead is 3'03 now, and gaps are starting to appear in the peloton.
14:25 EEST 64km/160.4km to go
The peloton is starting to stretch out even more now as other teams help the
Germans set the tempo in front. Cyclingnews spoke to the Australian team manager
today who thought that the peloton would crank it up early on to try and thin
things out a bit.
Meanwhile, Magnus Bäckstedt is passing the Parthenon and Acropolis for the fifth
14:28 EEST 66km/158.4km to go
Canadian Gord Fraser agreed with this assessment, telling Cyclingnews, "That
wouldn't surprise me a bit because there's been a lot of talk among the pros
about the problems on the course. It's not just the corners, but the asphalt
is like a rubber cement. It's slippery."
Bäckstedt has lost some of his advantage on this lap, as he passes the start/finish.
14:30 EEST 68km/156.4km to go
Laszlo Bodrogi (Hungary) hammers on the descent and gets a gap to the peloton,
but sits up just before the finish. It's Michael Rich (Germany) back on the
front. At the end of lap 5, the peloton is 3'23, so Bäckstedt is holding steady.
Bäckstedt did that lap in 20'50.
Richard Virenque (France) has counter attacked.
14:33 EEST 70km/154.4km to go
Virenque is now away solo in pursuit of Bäckstedt, as there is no immediate
reaction from the peloton. An Australian rider - looks like Rogers - does a
turn in front.
Virenque has 20 seconds lead over the peloton, which puts him three minutes
behind Bäckstedt. Cooke and Rogers (Aus) are on the front with Jason McCartney
(USA), but not really riding a chasing tempo.
14:38 EEST 72km/152.4km to go
Virenque passes the team boxes but he has plenty of fluid with him. He looks
back to see where the peloton is, and it isn't.
Bäckstedt is now at the top of the Lycabettus Hill climb on lap six, sweating
Virenque rides up the climb, out of the saddle trying to make as much ground
as possible on Bäckstedt. He passes the Cristian Moreni fan club.
In the bunch, Matt White (Aus) and Michael Rich (Ger) are setting the tempo.
14:41 EEST 74km/150.4km to go
Whitey gets an "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie" cheer as he leads at the foot of the
climb, with Mick Rogers right behind him.
Virenque is 2'26 behind Bäckstedt at the summit of the climb. The peloton is
at 3'27. Nice work from Virenque to get a minute that quickly.
Bäckstedt is still motoring along, as Richard Virenque steadily closes the gap
to the Swede. Bäckstedt passes the Acropolis and Parthenon. Maybe we could describe
his break as "mythical"?
Bodrogi is having another go now. He's about 20 seconds clear of the peloton.
Maybe it's a Quick.Step plan to get him and Virenque away? Oops sorry, there's
no trade team affiliations in the Olympics. None at all. Not one.
14:47 EEST 79km/145.4km to go
Bäckstedt exits the cobbles and goes under the 1 km to go sign. Virenque is
now on the cobbles, tackling the false flat.
14:48 EEST 79.5km/144.9km to go
Bäckstedt comes up to the finish line for the end of the sixth lap, across in
2'02'59 (38.64 km/h). 11 laps, or 145 km to go.
14:51 EEST 82km/142.4km to go
Virenque passes the start/finish at 2'16 behind Bäckstedt. Bodrogi comes past
at 2'47. The Hungarian is a good time trialist, and could catch Virenque before
The peloton is now being led by a Pagliarini (Brazil) and the ever-present Michael
Rich (Germany). The gap is 3'50 at the line.
14:56 EEST 85km/139.4km to go
Pagliarini continues the tempo setting on the front of the peloton, with Michael
Rich glued to his wheel. Nardello (Italy) is making a move towards the front.
The Italians have been very quiet so far, preferring to let the Germans set
the pace. Probably a smart move in this heat.
Bodrogi has caught his teammate, er rival, Virenque. The two are together on
the approach to the climb.
14:59 EEST 85km/139.4km to go
Bäckstedt is out of the saddle again, riding up the Lycabettus Hill climb for
the seventh time. He's working up a sweat, but he still looks in control of
the situation. He'll be happy once Virenque and Bodrogi get there. They are
within two minutes.
A spectator is spotted about halfway up the climb. Then...nothing.
Bodrogi and Virenque take turns on the climb, looking to maximise their effectiveness.
They crest the top 1'54 behind Bäckstedt. Virenque doesn't sprint for the mountain
points because there aren't any.
15:02 EEST 88km/136.4km to go
Germany has brought in reinforcements. Klöden and Voigt are helping Michael
Rich. Two of the Spanish riders are in tow.
Voigt does a big turn and creates gaps. but he doesn't want to break away yet.
The gap is 3'17 at the top.
Bäckstedt is back on the drops as he cruises down the descent. Bodrogi and Virenque
should catch him within a couple of laps, but it looks like the peloton is going
to wake up soon. Quite a few riders are in a long, thin line chasing on the
15:08 EEST 91km/133.4km to go
Virenque and Bodrogi are working smoothly in pursuit of Bäckstedt, who is stretching
a bit now and looking to be suffering from a few cramps. 36 degree heat is not
very kind to the body.
In the peloton, it's the Germans and the Aussies leading, at a more controlled
tempo as they pass the Greek Parliament.
15:10 EEST 92.4km/132km to go
Bäckstedt grimaces as he reaches the end of lap 7 in 2'24'33, still averaging
about 38'5 km/h. This is a tough circuit, made even tougher by the heat, and
we can't expect a very high average speed today.
Bodrogi and Virenque come up to the line 1'24 behind Bäckstedt. Both look a
lot more comfortable than the Swede.
15:13 EEST 95km/129.4km to go
Rich drops as far back as fourth wheel in the peloton, which comes through 3'30
behind the leader. Leipheimer and Julich (USA) have moved up. Ivan Stevic (Serbia)
is on the front, it looks like.
The seventh lap was the slowest yet, with Bäckstedt averaging 36.7 km/h. A testament
to the toughness of the course and the warm weather.
But Bäckstedt is still out there after having attacked on lap two. He's drinking
now as he rides up to the feed zone. He tosses a bottle into an empty sidestreet.
Fabian Cancellara (Swi) gets some attention from his team car.
15:20 EEST 97km/127.4km to go
One of the Irish riders - looks like Scanlon - has positioned himself in the
top 20 of the bunch (special update for the Irish fans).
Several different teams are taking control of the race, with the Germans always
Bäckstedt is on Lycabettus Hill for the eighth time, and starting to feel it.
The bottom of the climb is quite steep - 10 percent or so - and the road twists
and turns several times.
15:22 EEST 99km/125.4km to go
Bäckstedt reaches the top of the climb as Bodrogi and Virenque continue to rapidly
close the gap. It's now down to just 44 seconds, and Bäckstedt will probably
last one more lap until he is caught by the two chasers.
In the peloton, Rogers and O'Grady are at the front on the climb, with Rich
15:24 EEST 101km/123.4km to go
Rogers, O'Grady and Cooke lead at the top, then Rich takes over and does a strong
turn. The gap is down to 2'35. The plan is obviously to make the tempo hard
on the climb in order to cause Maximum Pain. There's not much benefit from drafting
on a climb.
Paolo Bettini is a fair way down the peloton now. The Italians are still vewy
15:27 EEST 102km/122.4km to go
Bäckstedt has just 25 seconds of his lead left on Virenque and Bodrogi, who
attacked in pursuit of the Swede on the sixth lap. We're now approaching the
end of lap 8.
Bäckstedt guides his bike onto the cobbles past the Parthenon and up to the
Acropolis. The chasing pair are at 20 seconds and closing, with the peloton
at around 2 minutes.
15:31 EEST 106km/118.4km to go
Bäckstedt rides up the finishing straight (where there are crowds) with a 150m
lead over Virenque and Bodrogi. Soon we'll have a three man break.
Bäckstedt crosses the line in 2'46'25 (38.07 km/h). Virenque and Bodrogi are
just 11 seconds behind.
An Austrian and an Australian are leading the bunch off the cobbles into the
final kilometre. The gap will be close to 3 minutes at the finish. We're not
quite at halfway yet.
15:34 EEST 107km/117.4km to go
Magnus Bäckstedt (Sweden), Richard Virenque (France) and Laszlo Bodrogi (Hungary)
are now all together at the start of the ninth lap. It looks like Michal Hrazdira
(Cze) is towing the peloton, with Voigt, Rich and Valverde behind him. It's
2'50 at the line. Ullrich is well placed in about 6th wheel. The US and the
Aussies are up there too.
15:37 EEST 109km/115.4km to go
There is some unrest in the peloton, as the Spanish move towards the front.
With three men at 2'50, the situation has changed and the race will have to
be more controlled. There's also a few Polish jerseys in front.
No sign of the New Zealanders, but Amir Zargari (Iran) is in about 30th wheel.
Uros Murn (Slovenia) looks pretty happy too.
Jason McCartney (USA) is on the front now.
Ullrich cruises up to the front, next to Klöden, and takes a drink. Knaven (Ned)
moves up too, but not for long. There is a certain amount of nervousness, as
a couple of Czechs ride tempo.
15:42 EEST 113km/111.4km to go
Bäckstedt leads on the climb up Lycabettus Hill, with Bodrogi and Virenque in
tow. We have three nationalities represented in the break, but in trade team
terms, we have two Quick.Steps and one Alessio-Bianchi.
The Germans have massed on the front of the peloton past the feed, and look
to be doing some more serious tempo work.
15:43 EEST 115km/109.4km to go
Voigt and Klöden (Rich falls back) drive it hard at the base of the climb with
Ullrich looking extremely comfortable. The guy on his wheel is not, forcing
Rogers to close the gap. Bettini is up there. He knows.
Over the top of the climb, it's Voigt, Ullrich, Rogers, O'Grady and Klöden.
Then maybe 10 more and then a few gaps. Rich is a long way back now. The peloton
15:45 EEST 117km/107.4km to go
Voigt and Ullrich continue to drive, and it's Ullrich who makes a little acceleration.
Straight away, Rogers and O'Grady are on his wheel. Bettini is there, looking
around for his teammates.
The German offensive has split the peloton into about four bits, and it's not
going to get much easier. We're only on lap nine, so it's quite early to be
forcing the pace like this.
The three leaders are less than two minutes clear now.
15:48 EEST 117km/107.4km to go
There's about 20 riders off the front of the peloton, but there are others coming
back. Julich and Rogers are trying to keep the tempo up. There's now 40. Voigt
does a turn. The Italians are there with Moreni and Bettini.
The gap has come down to 1'20 but Rogers sits up and the tempo eases off. More
groups will get on.
Voigt, Rogers and Julich are making the tempo, but it's not particularly hard
at the moment. Kroon is up there for the Netherlands. The bunch is now perhaps
70-80 riders strong.
It's still Virenque, Bodrogi and Bäckstedt in front, but only by 1'30.
A second big group is trying to make its way back to the peloton. Van Petegem
is at the back of the front group, along with White. Chavanel (France) is in
last wheel. Group 2 should be able to make contact...until the next climb.
15:53 EEST 119km/105.4km to go
The three leaders, looking a little ragged now, reaching the line for the end
of lap 9 in 3'07'18 (38.05 km/h).
15:54 EEST 120km/104.4km to go
The bunch has regrouped almost completely, but the next time up Lycabettus Hill
will be telling. Voigt is marshalling the front of the peloton, and the Slovenians
are well placed with Stangelj to the fore.
The gap at the line is 1'42.
Jan Kirsipuu has abandoned, and it looks like Robin Reid (NZ) is still off the
back of the peloton.
15:57 EEST 122km/102.4km to go
One of the Canadians - looks like Michael Barry - moves to the front. The pace
is very moderate at the start of lap 10, but all hell could break loose on the
Hincapie has been sighted in about 10th position. Valverde is also well up there.
Nardello brings a bottle of Coke(tm) up to the front for a teammate.
Philippe Gilbert (Bel) has moved up.
16:00 EEST 123km/101.4km to go
The three leaders have increased their advantage up to 1'55 as the peloton readies
itself for the next assault on the climb. The pace increases, with Glomser (Aut)
in front. The Aussies, led by Cooke and White, make a move on the left.
16:02 EEST 125km/99.4km to go
Cooke leads the bunch past the feed boxes, as Virenque leads the break up the
climb for the 10th time. Bäckstedt is in second wheel, still hanging in there,
but he's not looking very fresh and his head is pointing down.
Bäckstedt takes over just before the top, as the noise of the cicadas gets very
loud. Bodrogi then comes through and crosses the summit first.
The peloton is strung out again, with Cooke and two Spaniards on the front.
Klöden has attacked!
Andreas Klöden crosses the summit, 1'11 behind the break. But Igor Gonzalez
(Spain) realises the danger and drags the bunch up. There are many splits.
16:06 EEST 127km/97.4km to go
Paolo Bettini (Italy) looks quite comfy as he sits in 15th wheel. The two Spaniards
- Igor and Valverde - are doing the damager with Rogers in tow. Rogers takes
over. The gap is 1'00.
In front, Bäckstedt looks more comfortable as he does a turn on the descent,
followed by Virenque then Bodrogi.
Igor and Valverde are still forcing the tempo in the bunch, and it's hurting.
They're looking around, and they have a small gap.
Igor Gonzalez tows Valverde for a long time. They are joined by a couple more
riders, with the peloton chasing hard.
16:11 EEST 130km/94.4km to go
Gonzalez drives onto the cobbles past the Acropolis, and there are now five
in the break. But the peloton is on them now, albeit rather strung out.
Bobby Julich (USA) counters. This is not making it easy for the dropped groups
to regain the peloton.
16:12 EEST 132km/92.4km to go
Attacks are coming thick and fast now, as Julich is caught by Rogers, who is
towing a very strung out peloton behind him.
The three leaders are now in the finishing straight for the end of lap 10.
16:14 EEST 132km/92.4km to go
Voeckler (France) leads the bunch up to the line, then Leipheimer takes over.
The gap is a mere 20 seconds at the line.
Julian Dean (NZ) is well placed in the peloton. Vinokourov is up there too.
The bunch is still some 100 riders strong.
16:15 EEST 134km/90.4km to go
Julich is on the move again with Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez (Colombia). They
have pulled in the three leaders.
The bunch is still strung out, and there's one rider trying to get across to
the leading five. Virenque looks back to check the gap and who he's got for
company. But the gap is only 10 seconds and the peloton is not easing up.
16:18 EEST 135km/89.4km to go
Laverde doesn't care, and he does a big turn in front to try and increase the
break's advantage. Italian jerseys are prominent in the chase.
Virenque is knackered, and sits up. The break is caught.
16:19 EEST 136km/88.4km to go
Bäckstedt rode the longest in front, having initiated the move on lap two after
about 20 km. He was out there for nearly 115 km.
The speed is very high as the bunch races towards the Lycabettus Hill climb
for the 11th time.
Marcus Ljungqvist (Sweden) is first in line as the peloton passes the team boxes.
He grabs a bottle or two and quickly drinks. The heat is sapping everyone.
Andreas Klöden has abandoned! He is one rider who doesn't do well in the heat.
He had the same problem last week in San Sebastian.
16:22 EEST 138km/86.4km to go
The peloton tackles the climb for the 11th time with Glomser (Aut) in front.
Ljungqvist is up there with a Ukrainian and Colombian. Moreni in fifth wheel,
then three of the US riders. The Australians have fallen back a bit.
A Colombian rider gets a small gap at the top of the climb. The peloton is in
bits again, and Virenque and Moreau are at the back.
Bäckstedt has abandoned. No surprise there.
16:24 EEST 139km/85.4km to go
The Colombian is Laverde again, and he has Totschnig (Aut) with him. They have
16:28 EEST 141km/83.4km to go
Seven riders are in pursuit of the two leaders, with the peloton hot on their
16:29 EEST 143km/81.4km to go
Totschnig and Laverde hammer across the cobbles, as two riders manage to bridge
16:31 EEST 145km/79.4km to go
A 10 man group has formed now, with Totschnig and Laverde starting it. They
reach the finishing straight with the peloton towed by Jens Voigt at 15 seconds.
16:33 EEST 146km/78.4km to go
Totschnig (Aut), Mizourov (Kaz), Vainsteins (Lat), Julich (USA), Joachim (Lux),
Etxebarria (Ven), Moreni (Ita), Hushovd (Nor), Igor (Spain), Gilbert (Bel) are
in the group. Ekimov and Van Heeswijk are closing the gap. The peloton is at
26 seconds at the start/finish, with Voigt in front. The Germans and the Aussies
have missed it.
16:36 EEST 148km/76.4km to go
Mick Rogers is leading the peloton, but he has Gutierrez and Valverde (Spain)
and Leipheimer and Hincapie (USA) on his wheel. They won't be doing any turns
as they have riders in the break. Alexandre Vinokourov is on Hincapie's wheel.
It's all up to Rogers to close the gap.
The leaders have 25 seconds on the peloton, but are not cooperating that well.
Rogers has help from Stangelj, who leads up past the feed boxes.
16:41 EEST 149km/75.4km to go
Axel Merckx (Bel) closes the gap to the break just before the climb. There are
now 13: Luis Laverde (Colombia), Georg Totschnig (Austria), Andrei Mizourov
(Kaz), Romans Vainsteins (Lat), Bobby Julich (USA), Unai Etxebarria (Ven), Cristian
Moreni (Ita), Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spain), Philippe Gilbert and Axel Merckx
(Bel), Ekimov (Rus) and Van Heeswijk (Ned)
Unai Etxebarria and Moreni have a small gap to the rest at the top, and the
bunch is coming back to them. It's only 15 seconds. Vinokourov is chasing.
16:45 EEST 153km/71.4km to go
Etxebarria is together with Moreni on the descent as the front part of the peloton
has caught the break. Maybe 50 riders in the bunch now, 15 seconds behind.
16:47 EEST 155km/69.4km to go
The counter attacks continue from the bunch, with Joachim (Lux) accelerating,
but getting nowhere. Erik Dekker is at the back of the field.
Moreni and Etxebarria continue to make good their escape.
16:48 EEST 156km/68.4km to go
Etxebarria hammers across the cobbles with Moreni (who is by the way another
Alessio-Bianchi rider) on his wheel. Etxebarria rides for Euskaltel, but the
way. And Venezuela.
16:50 EEST 157km/67.4km to go
A counter attack has formed with four riders in it. There's a lot of green in
the group. One Aussie this time.
The leaders are inside the final kilometre of lap 12.
The counter attacking group: Robbie McEwen (Australia), Ryan Cox (South Africa),
Ciaran Power (Ireland) and Martin Elmiger (Switzerland). Interesting!
16:52 EEST 159km/65.4km to go
The two leaders cross the line for lap 12 in 4'06'12 (38.6 km/h). The chase
group of four is at 8 seconds, while the Voigt led peloton is at 41 seconds.
16:53 EEST 160km/64.4km to go
At the start of lap 13, we now have a group of six: Unai Etxebarria (Venezuela),
Cristian Moreni (Italy), Robbie McEwen (Australia), Ryan Cox (South Africa),
Ciaran Power (Ireland) and Martin Elmiger (Switzerland). They have 40 seconds
on the peloton, which is down to 50 riders or so.
16:55 EEST 162km/62.4km to go
Hushovd has abandoned.
Elmiger does a turn in the break, which is not working too well. Cox doesn't
want to do much it seems.
Moreau has abandoned.
There is better cooperation in the break, which has a minute. Igor Gonzalez
(Spain) chats on his radio to ask what to do. There's no panic yet. Ullrich
and Dean have moseyed on up to the front of the bunch too.
16:58 EEST 163km/61.4km to go
Etxebarria, Cox, Moreni, Power, McEwen, Elmiger are the breakaways on the 13th
lap. All are doing their turns now, but not hammering. They come past the team
boxes and some riders grab drinks.
17:00 EEST 164km/60.4km to go
The peloton passes the feed zone, grabbing drinks whenever possible. Gord Fraser
(Can) is on the back.
The six leaders hit the climb for the 13th time, Cox in front.
17:01 EEST 165km/59.4km to go
McEwen, Power and Etxebarria have their jerseys unzipped as far as they will
go. The other three are sweating.
The bunch hits the climb 1'05 behind the leaders, with Igor Gonzalez riding
tempo with a Kazakhstan rider on his wheel.
At the top of the climb, the strung out peloton looks a little bigger - maybe
70-80 men. The gap is 59 seconds, with Igor still leading.
17:05 EEST 168km/56.4km to go
Matt White and Baden Cooke (Aus) have abandoned, leaving three Aussies in the
race. One of them is in the break: Robbie McEwen. The Australian plan is probably
centred on O'Grady today. Being an Adelaide boy, he doesn't mind the heat.
The gap is holding steady at one minute as the leaders reach the bottom of the
descent. Igor Gonzalez is still towing the strung out peloton.
17:09 EEST 170km/54.4km to go
Speaking of O'Grady, he's sitting near the back of the bunch, talking on his
The break is now on the cobbles. Hincapie grabs a whole stash of bidons and
brings them up to his teammates.
Jose Ivan Gutierrez has abandoned, and looks in a bit of trouble from the heat.
He also has a big bandage on his knee after crashing early in the race. Interestingly,
that's been the only crash. It took care of Astarloa, Boogerd, Karpets and Perez.
The bunch passes the Acropolis for the 13th time 52 seconds behind the six man
break. Those names in front again: Unai Etxebarria (Venezuela), Cristian Moreni
(Italy), Robbie McEwen (Australia), Ryan Cox (South Africa), Ciaran Power (Ireland)
and Martin Elmiger (Switzerland).
17:12 EEST 172km/52.4km to go
The breakaway is working together with Elmiger and McEwen looking strong. Cox
is panting for air a bit. 4'26'23 for 171.6 km = 38.65 km/h.
Igor leads a very strung out peloton 38 seconds behind.
17:13 EEST 173km/51.4km to go
Four laps to go in the Olympic men's road race, and we have a break of six that's
dangling out in front at 38 seconds.
The fastest lap was the 11th in 19'02 (41.6 km/h). This is a slow course.
17:15 EEST 175km/49.4km to go
Igor is still on the front of the peloton, setting an impressive tempo with
Ruslan Ivanov (Moldavia) on his wheel. The US team: Julich, Leipheimer, Hamilton
and Hincapie, are well placed in the top 10.
Igor passes a bottle back to Valverde, who has come up for a chat. Voeckler
and Glomser are also near the front.
McEwen has attacked the rest, taking Moreni and Elmiger with him. He was probably
not happy with the cooperation of the break.
17:18 EEST 176km/48.4km to go
Power, Cox and Etxebarria are trying to close the gap to McEwen, Moreni and
Elmiger. It's about 5 seconds as they pass the feed boxes. The break comes back
Wauters and Vansevenant (Bel) have abandoned.
17:19 EEST 176km/48.4km to go
It looks like Frank Høj's is handing out bottles to his Danish teammates from
the team boxes (could me mistaken).
Gerrit Glomser (Austria) has counter attacked in pursuit of the six man break.
17:21 EEST 178km/46.4km to go
The leaders are on Lycabettus Hill, led by McEwen with Cox bringing up the rear.
The South African has a bottle of Coke in his back pocket, which he'll probably
need soon. Moreni takes over, looks back and sees Glomser coming up behind.
Max van Heeswijk (Ned) is at the back of the bunch, cooling off with an ice
17:23 EEST 179km/45.4km to go
At the top, Glomser has made contact and the gap is 11 seconds back to the peloton,
where Philippe Gilbert (Bel) stirs up the pace.
Unai Etxebarria attacks, but the rest come up to him. He goes again.
The lead group: Unai Etxebarria (Venezuela), Cristian Moreni (Italy), Ciaran
Power (Ireland), Martin Elmiger (Switzerland), Gerrit Glomser (Austria). McEwen
and Cox have been dropped.
Viatcheslav Ekimov (Russia) has abandoned.
The five leaders are working again, more or less.
17:26 EEST 180km/44.4km to go
The peloton is in a very very long line as it motors on the descent, 10 seconds
behind the five leaders.
17:28 EEST 182km/42.4km to go
A group of eight riders has extracted itself from the peloton, which is closing
the gap. Voeckler is one of them.
17:29 EEST 184km/40.4km to go
The break drives up past the Acropolis on the cobbles, being caught by the chase
group, which has 10 seconds on the front of the peloton.
17:31 EEST 185km/39.4km to go
Voeckler, Moreni, Elmiger do their turn at the front of the break as they reach
the start/finish. There is no cooperation. Voeckler attacks again. Hamilton,
Kirchen and Nardello are there with him.
Three laps to go, and the peloton is just 8 seconds behind the break, led by
17:33 EEST 186km/38.4km to go
It's back together again, but Hamilton decides to counter. He takes Kirchen
and Paolini(?) with him. Yakovlev is there, and a couple of others.
17:34 EEST 187km/37.4km to go
Hamilton, Kroon, Nardello, Yakovlev, Kirchen, Kolobnev and Paolini are in the
break, but the peloton is hot on their heels. The gap is less than 5 seconds.
The attacks continue. Luca Paolini (Ita) and Alexandre Kolobnev (Rus) are the
next to have a go. Kroon (Ned) bridges up to them.
17:38 EEST 189km/35.4km to go
Paolini (Ita), Kolobnev (Rus) and Kroon (Ned) lead the break past the team boxes,
with the peloton still 5 seconds behind. The bunch is still fairly big - maybe
Chavanel and Scanlon abandon.
It's all together as the bunch approaches the climb for the third last time.
Two Kazakh jerseys are up the front, but it's the Austrians who drive the pace.
Bettini does a turn with Vinokourov on his wheel.
17:40 EEST 191km/33.4km to go
Bettini attacks with Vino, Kolobnev, Valverde, Dean and one other. Ullrich is
closing the gap. Hincapie and Hamilton lead the next group.
17:41 EEST 192km/32.4km to go
At the top, there is a group of seven or so with 5 seconds to a group led by
Merckx, which also contains Hincapie and Hamilton. But the gap is not big enough
and Bettini sits up.
Vinokourov doesn't sit up, neither does Dean. They try to keep the pace high.
Maybe 20 men in the move now.
17:44 EEST 193km/31.4km to go
Oscar Freire has shown himself at the front for the first time. Not a bad time
to be up there. He's a two time world champ, and definitely one of the Spanish
team's main men.
Paolini (Ita) drives the tempo in front, trying to keep the pace up. Frank Schleck
(Lux) is also there. Bettini is looking very nervous as he looks back at Ullrich.
There's maybe 20 men here.
Igor has abandoned. He did a great job for the team.
17:46 EEST 195km/29.4km to go
George Hincapie (USA) attacks, seeing that the cooperation isn't great. The
big American gets a small gap, but the chase is strong behind him as he hits
the Acropolis Now cobbles.
17:47 EEST 196km/28.4km to go
Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) attacks on the cobbles, taking Paolini with him. Paolini
comes through for a turn. Hincapie has been caught by the lead group.
17:48 EEST 198km/26.4km to go
In front we have Paolini, Arvesen, Merckx and Høj's (who obviously hasn't abandoned).
The four have 15 seconds on one rider, with the peloton another 10 seconds back.
17:50 EEST 199km/25.4km to go
The four leaders have 27 seconds on the regrouped peloton with 2 laps to go.
Popovych is the man in pursuit, and he is 15 seconds behind Arvesen, Høj's,
Paolini and Merckx.
17:53 EEST 200km/24.4km to go
The Dutch and Kazakh teams are making the pace in the peloton, 25 seconds behind
the leaders. Popovych is making some good ground on the break. The Ukrainian
is a good one day rider, even though he's been concentrating on three week stage
races in his career so far.
But the peloton is organised now, with the Kazakhstan team led by Andrey Kashechkin
in front. Bettini is right on his wheel. Then Vino and Van Petegem.
17:54 EEST 201km/23.4km to go
Ullrich is sitting in about 10th wheel, right behind Valverde. Vinokourov attacks,
with Bettini and Van Petegem. But then sits up as the peloton is right there.
The break is caught.
Paolini does his last turn on the front, with Vino and Bettini on his wheel.
Damage will be done on the climb.
Oscar Freire has abandoned.
17:56 EEST 202km/22.4km to go
O'Grady is now well positioned in the front of the peloton on the second last
lap. The bunch rides past the team boxes, fairly well strung out. Julian Dean
(NZ) is still riding well.
Paolini grabs a bottle and gives it to Bettini. There is a reshuffling at the
front, as maybe 60 riders hit the climb of Lycabettus Hill for the penultimate
Bettini attacks at the bottom of the climb, with Vino, (Portugal?), Ullrich,
Voigt has abandoned, as has Pozzato.
17:59 EEST 204km/20.4km to go
Bettini's attack has done some damage alright, but the Portuguese rider with
him - Sergio Paulinho - is doing it easy. Vino is leading the chase behind.
18:01 EEST 206km/18.4km to go
At the top, Bettini and Paulinho have a small gap to six riders, with Ullrich,
Dean, Vinokourov, Merckx, Valverde and one more.
Leipheimer has abandoned.
Bettini and Paulinho have a pretty handy lead back to the chase group, which
is now growing as riders catch on from the peloton. The gap is 11 seconds.
18:03 EEST 207km/17.4km to go
The peloton has more or less regrouped on the descent, leaving Bettini and Paulinho
with 15 seconds advantage.
18:05 EEST 209km/15.4km to go
It's 20 seconds now and looking dangerous. Bettini is not a rider who you can
let go. Paulinho is a bit of a surprise, but remember the heat changes a few
The Dutch with Karsten Kroon lead the bunch across the cobbles for the second
last time, 20 seconds behind the two leaders.
18:06 EEST 210km/14.4km to go
The Kazakhstan team is helping the chase now, the peloton maybe 50 strong. The
leading pair are into the final kilometre of the 16th lap.
18:07 EEST 211km/13.4km to go
Bettini drives it into the finishing straight, as the peloton lines itself out
behind. The gap is looking very nice. It's 23 seconds.
18:08 EEST 212km/12.4km to go
Bettini and Paulinho cross the line with one lap to go in 5'22'58. Bettini hammers
through for his turn. Yakovlev is burying himself in the peloton at 26 seconds.
Paolini on his wheel, not doing anything. Then Ljungqvist, Julich, Hamilton,
18:10 EEST 213km/11.4km to go
Paulinho is looking just as good as Bettini, but the Italian is the odds on
favourite if they stay clear. Yakovlev has done such a hard turn that he's opened
up a gap. He sits up.
Erik Dekker counters! But gets nowhere. One of the Russians takes over - Petrov.
The gap is 30 seconds.
The peloton steels itself for the final climb. Any bridging move will have to
come here. Petrov continues on the front, with Elmiger(?) on his wheel. Ullrich,
Hincapie are well placed.
The leading pair are working very well, neither looking stronger at the moment.
It's 33 seconds as Elmiger does a turn in the bunch. Voeckler follows a counter
attack. It goes nowhere. The cooperation is gone.
18:14 EEST 215km/9.4km to go
The bunch is very disorganised now, looking like it's racing for third place.
The two leaders fly past the feed zone, not taking any more water on board.
Virenque is still in the bunch, but in last wheel. Not bad going.
The leaders have 38 seconds at the foot of the climb. Last time!
Paolo Bettini drives hard at the foot of the climb with Paulinho glued to his
wheel. The Portuguese rider is not giving an inch. But then it gets steeper...
Bettini gets a metre, then five metres...he's gone!! Bettini is solo.
18:17 EEST 217km/7.4km to go
But Paulinho has not given up - he's back with Bettini and even takes over for
a turn. Bettini might want the assistance.
18:18 EEST 218km/6.4km to go
At the top of the climb, the peloton is 49 seconds back, led by Ullrich. But
there is no way that they're going to catch the two leaders.
Valverde has been dropped. The last of the Spaniards.
18:19 EEST 219km/5.4km to go
In front, we have Paolo Bettini (Italy) who is surely on his way to an Olympic
gold medal. Paulinho is strong, but Bettini is fast.
The race is on for third place, with Vinokourov now being active on the descent.
It's down to 40 seconds now as the two leaders hit 5 km to go. This will have
to be an incredible pursuit to catch them.
Bettini realises, and does a strong turn. He wants to make sure.
18:21 EEST 220km/4.4km to go
The Italians are controlling the front of the peloton, which is not organised
enough to chase the leaders.
The gap goes up to 43 seconds as Merckx counters from the peloton. There's still
a bronze medal up for grabs.
Paulinho tightens his shoestraps.
Merckx gives it full gas in pursuit. He's riding very well.
18:23 EEST 222km/2.4km to go
Bettini and Paulinho ride past the Acropolis/Parthenon for the last time, both
looking very cool. Paulinho looks the least worried.
Stangelj has crashed. He's on the bike again, but his race is over.
They're on the descent on the cobbles now with 2 km to go. There's still a remarkable
lack of spectators.
Merckx is about 30 seconds behind, solo.
18:25 EEST 223.4km/1km to go
The leading pair are not playing cat and mouse yet as they reach 1 km to go.
Paulinho in front.
Now the cat and mouse starts as Bettini does a turn, looking back. Paulinho
looks back too. 32 seconds to Merckx, who's on track for a nice bronze.
18:27 EEST 224.4km/0km to go
Paulinho leads into the finishing straight, Bettini on his wheel. The pace slows
right down, both riders looking back a lot. Paulinho gets a gap when he jumps
Bettini, but the Italian closes the gap, comes round and wins the Olympic road
Paulinho second, Merckx third!!! Zabel fourth, it looks like.
Bettini can't believe it. He is congratulated by all his teammates, Ullrich
and plenty of others. A very hard earned but nicely raced victory.
1 Paolo Bettini (Italy) 5.41.44
2 Sergio Paulinho (Portugal) 0.01
3 Axel Merckx (Belgium) 0.06
4 Erik Zabel (Germany) 0.12
5 Andrej Hauptman (Slovenia)
6 Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg)
7 Roger Hammond (Great Britain)
8 Frank Hoj (Denmark)
9 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Norway)
10 Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia)
the commentary team
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