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28th Olympic Games - JO

Athens, Greece, August 14-28, 2004

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Commentary by Kristy Scrymgeour

August 15: Women's road race, 118.8km - Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 15:00 EEST
Estimated finish time: 17:45 EEST

14:53 EEST   
Welcome to the Cyclingnews'coverage of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Today is the women's 118.8km road race on the same course as the men raced over yesterday. The course of 13.2km in length is challenging with a couple of climbs and a cobbled section to contend on some very technical roads in the center of Athens. The women will race nine laps.

It is another hot day in Athens, right now sitting at 90 degrees and there is a threat of rain which if realised will make the course decidedly more challenging on the very slippery surface and tight corners.

The favourites of today's race are riders such as Nicole Cooke (Great Britain) who, although very young, is undoubtedly one of the best one day races in the bunch. Zoulfia Zabirova (Russia) is also very likely to have a good race, as is Mirjam Melchers (Netherlands) and Jeannie Longo (France).

The Germans have a strong team on this course with both Trixi Worrack and Judith Arndt in good form and the Australian's are having a very good season with Oenone Wood, Olivia Gollan and Sara Carrigan. The course is also a good one for Dede Barry (USA) who is also in great form right now.

15:03 EEST   
And they're off. It's dry and the Dutch are sitting on the very front of the 67 person bunch with defending champion Leontein Van Moorsel and Anouska Van Der Zee right up there. They will very likely be working for their teammate Melchers today.

15:07 EEST   
The US team are also right up their in the top ten riders. Joining Barry are Kristin Armstrong and Christine Thorburn. All three of these riders are riding their very first Olympic Games. The pace is quite easy at the moment as the riders get used to each other in the bunch and get rid of their nerves.

15:17 EEST    10km/108.8km to go
Lene Byberg (Norway) almost overshot a corner on a slight descent but didn't go down. She has regrouped and made it back up to the bunch as they head along a wide straight road.

15:19 EEST   
The wind that was strong before the race has died down a little and the threat of rain is no longer.

Jeannie Longo is right on the front of the bunch right now as the bunch now rides the cobbled section at the bottom of the climb up to the Acropolis.

15:24 EEST    13.2km/105.6km to go
We are just as the end of the first lap and the bunch is all together with eight laps to go. There looks to be a bigger crowd on the road today as compared with yesterday.

15:27 EEST   
The Lithuanians in the bunch are the famous twins Rasa and Jolanta Polikeviciute as well as former world Champion Edita Pucinskaite. They have had drama in the past couple of days with the coach decided that Pucinskaite would ride the road race instead of Diana Ziliute who was originally supposed to. Ziliute up and left the Olympic Games all together when she was told and decided not to ride the time trial and the track.

15:31 EEST   
An interesting tidbit that demonstrates just how long Longo has been racing. Tatiana Guderzo who is riding for Italy was born in August 1984 when Longo rode in her first Olympics.

15:33 EEST   
The sun is showing its face right now and it is warming up a little. Van Moorsel is still sitting on the front as is very normal for her.

15:35 EEST   
Riders are now climbing the Lycabettus Hill which winds up steeply in parts with a few switchbacks. The pace is being set by the Dutchies and a few riders are falling of the back.

15:37 EEST   
Edwige Pitel of France took a spill and is have a very slow bike change. She will have a very hard chase to get back on now.

15:42 EEST   
We are 40 minutes into the race right now and the pace is very steady. The one Brazilian rider in the race, Janildes Fernand Silva is sitting on the front next to Van Moorsel as they head past the temple of Zeus.

15:44 EEST   
We are back to the cobbled section again and this time Linn Torp is setting the pace. The pace is pretty high and the bunch is a little strung out.

15:47 EEST   
The riders are drinking a lot out there and the pace has slowed as they head along a wide flat road. The difference between the Olympic road race and most of the races these riders compete in during the year is that there is a maximum of only three riders per team. Often this means the beginning of the race will be less aggressive as teams do not want to waste their energy too early. Also a bunch of 67 riders is a lot smaller than the other big one day races of the year such as the world cups.

15:51 EEST    26km/92.8km to go
We are starting the third lap of the race and Pitel is back in the bunch and chatting with her teammate at the back of the bunch. It looks like the wind has picked up again a little.

15:55 EEST   
Race favourite Nicole Cooke is looking comfortable in bunch. Barbara Heeb (Switzerland) is pushing the pace at the front with Austrian Christiane Soeder sitting on her wheel. Heeb won the World Championships in Lugano in 1995 and is known as a very good climber. She took a break from cycling a couple of years back to take up cross country skiing and made her comeback to cycling just last year.

15:59 EEST   
Riders are climbing again with Longo on the front. Heeb is right on her wheel and the bubch is strung out a little again.

Dede Barry is sitting near the back of the bunch but looks very comfortable.

16:02 EEST   
There has been another near crash, but all riders safely held it up. A Guatemalen rider Maria Dolores Molina is in the bunch. It is rare that she races against these girls in Europe, but she does a lot of her training in the US.

16:05 EEST   
Another World Champion Joane Somarriba Arrola is in the bunch but not showing her face just yet. She is also multiple time winnner of the women's version of the Tour de France, Le Grande Boucle.

16:07 EEST   
The Dutchies are back on the front and the bunch is just cruising along at this point. Oenone Wood (Australia) looks good and sits nicely in the top ten. She is having the season of her life and currently leads the women's world cup series which continues right after the Olympics with Plouay. Her and her teammates Gollan and Carrigan will have to head straight to France after the Olympics for this race.

16:11 EEST    40km/78.8km to go
The wind is really picking up now after just over an hour of racing. We are at the end of the third lap with six to go.

16:16 EEST   
The women are doing their laps in about 23 minutes at the moment. Longo is on the front again and riding right up against the barriers. They are riding with a big crosswind coming from the left and Longo is on the very left hand side of the road making it tough for the riders to draft.

16:21 EEST   
Pitel who had a bike change in lap one after crashing, has just taken a moment to change back to her other bike.

Just as she does that Eneritz Iturriaga Mazaga (Spain) makes the first attack of the day up the climb. The bunch has not reacted yet and she has quite a good gap.

16:23 EEST   
Another French girl Sonia Huguet has crashed with Junying Zhang (China). They collided but didn't go down and are chasing back on.

16:24 EEST   
One of the Lithuanian twins has accelerated at the front of the bunch in chase of Iturriaga Mazaga who now has 30 seconds lead.

16:26 EEST   
This is a good move for Spain who has Somarriba back in the bunch. Iturriaga is really digging deep in her suitcase of courage now :).

16:30 EEST   
Janildes Fernand Silva from Brazil an now attacked and now sits in between Iturriaga and the bunch. She looks strong and has a convincing gap. Iturriaga now has 42 seconds on the field.

16:32 EEST    52.8km/66km to go
We are just getting to the end of the fourth lap with five to go.

16:34 EEST   
Fernand Silva is really putting a lot of effort in this move. You can she the pain and concentration on her face. Up ahead Iturriaga is still looking smooth.
She now has 42seconds on Fernand and 1'14" on the bunch.

16:37 EEST   
This move will make the race very interesting because now teams will be looking at each other to see who is going to make the first move to chase. There is still a long way to go and riders won't want to be chasing too hard just yet.

16:39 EEST   
Iturriaga does have the wind against her. It's quite strong now and is going to make things very hard for her.

16:42 EEST   
Fernand has been caught and immediately Rasa Polikeviciute counters the move. She was caught straight away and Manon Jutras (Canada) has countered. Jutras will be making this move to work for her teammate Lyne Bessette, putting pressure on the other teams.

Iturriaga is losing a bit of time. She now has 50" on the field. Jutras is getting caught as the British chase using Rachel Heal.

16:43 EEST   
Iturriaga is at the base of the climb now and losing time. She now has 26" and Judith Arndt (Germany) is driving the pace on the front of the bunch. Arndt actually has a gap now and and Van Moorsel is right on her wheel.

16:44 EEST   
Ljungskog is even chasing them now, knowing that she can't let Arndt get away and the bunch is splitting up behind them as they head up this tough climb.

16:45 EEST   
It is obvious now that this race will definitely not come down to a sprint. We are only half way through the race and already the main players are making moves to split things up.

16:49 EEST   
Priska Doppman (Switzerland) has attacked now but only has a small gap. The bunch is just one long line now and the pressure is on. Kristin Armstrong (USA)is right up in about fourth wheel now.

It is all back together. In all the action Iturriaga was caught and now things have settled down a little.

16:52 EEST   
There are probably about 45 riders left in the bunch now as quite a few were dropped on the last climb.

16:53 EEST   
Olivia Gollan has a puncture and gets a quick wheel change on the pave. The is chasing back through the caravan as they head slightly downhill. She will get back on without too much excess effort.

16:58 EEST    66km/52.8km to go
Judith Arndt has attacked again and has caused a split on as the race heads through the finish line after five laps.

16:59 EEST   
It got back together and Huguet has countered. Huguet has had a great season this year, winning one of the women's world cup races, Fleche Wallone. She has 15 seconds at this point.

17:01 EEST   
Longo is on the front again but not working of course as her teammate is still up the road. Dede Barry moves up the bunch taking her teammate Armstrong with her.

17:06 EEST   
Huguet now has 55 seconds as she goes through the feed zone. Longo still sits on the front. There is no chase in the bunch right now, although the climb is coming.

17:08 EEST   
Jutras is now on the front chasing. She is doing a great job for Bessette today. The Lithuanians are right on her wheel.

17:10 EEST   
The chase has started to pick up behind Huguet and another attack goes now. This time it is Bessette. It will be hard for her to get a convincing gap because they are going downhill now.

17:15 EEST   
Huguet is still ahead but feeling it in the wind. A group of five are attacking behind and have a gap on the rest of the field. It's Arndt driving it. Pitel has gone with it to cover the break for her teammate up front.

Huguet has been caught now and the bunch is totally strung out with seven riders having a slight advantage on the rest.

17:16 EEST   
Nicole Cooke has bridged up making the front group eight. There are two Australians in the front group. Three more riders are briding up now and Arndt is still driving it at the front.

17:18 EEST    79.2km/39.6km to go
Arndt looks back now waiting asking for some help and Gollan comes through to do a turn. Thorburn is also in the group, as is Van Moorsel.

17:19 EEST   
With only three laps to go more riders have bridged up and now the bunch is split into two groups with about 25 riders in the lead. Not making the cut at this stage is Bessette. She is back in the second group.

17:22 EEST   
Things have slowed down again and the second group have rejoined the first and things are all back together. Riders are using this opportunity to go back to get some drinks from their team cars.

17:23 EEST   
Bessette has attacked again. This is probably a good moment to go because people are a bit relaxed after the previous action.

17:23 EEST   
She keeps looking back to gauge her gap. She has 15" already and their is no chase yet.

17:25 EEST   
Pitel accelerates at the front of the bunch to try and get the chase started. Bessette is looking good and has a look of deep concentration on her face. She is definitely a rider in the bunch who can ride hard solo for long distances.

17:29 EEST   
Bessette now heads up the climb and now has 20". Christiane Soeder (Austrian) is on the front of the group, but Trixi Worrack takes over and the pace picks up in the bunch.

17:32 EEST   
Worrack has the bunch strung out and the French rider Huguet is falling off the back. Van Moorsel is back on the front now. Pitel attacks again, Van Moorsel gets on her wheel straight away and the two get a gap.

17:35 EEST   
Bessette is getting caught now but is not giving up. She looks over her shoulder as the bunch approaches her and she gets out of the saddle and accelerates again.

17:37 EEST   
The peloton is strung out as we head towards the finish line with only two laps to go. Bessette is caught and Iturriaga moves past her to lead the bunch through the corner.

Sue Palmer Komar immedaitely counters the move. The Canadians are really putting their front foot forward today.

17:39 EEST   
Palmer opens up a very quick gap but the bunch don't look too concerned. Palmer is not one of the favourites in the race but she is very strong and has had a great season. They don't want to let her get too far up the road.

17:41 EEST   
The temperature has picked up in the last couple of hours and is now over 90 degrees.

Arndt gets a plastic bag stuck in her front wheel. She goes back to the team car and the mechanic tries to get it out. It's not working so she stops.

17:42 EEST   
Van Moorsel looks over her shoulder and clips the wheel in front of her. She goes down and takes Bessette down with her. They were right on the front of the bunch.

17:43 EEST   
Christine Thorburn makes a remarkable recovery. Her front wheel was taken out but she manages to hold it up.

Only three riders go down. Van Moorsel doesn't get up. She is sitting on the ground and won't rejoin the race. The defending champion is out.

17:47 EEST   
Van Moorsel is being carried off on a stretcher. She fell hard on her hip and shoulder. This is not good for her as she still has two more events to compete in over the next week.

17:49 EEST   
Palmer Komar is still up the road and now has 1'12" on the bunch. She looks very smooth. This is a great ride for her. She is always a very aggressive rider and not afraid to make breakaway moves. This could pay off for her but we are getting to the point of the race where the attacks are going to be very strong on the climb.

17:50 EEST   
An Italian rider Noemi Cantele has also attacked now and sits between Palmer Komar and the bunch as the bunch heads through the feed zone.

Sue rides past a Canadian flag on the course.

17:53 EEST   
Palmer Komar heads up the climb now and has to try to keep her rythm on the steep section. Cantele is also still in the middle. Somariba starts the chase on the climb. Melchers was right up there and Ljungskog and Wood. Cooke is also there.

A group of six have split off the front of the bunch.

17:54 EEST   
Palmer's gap is dropping. It's now at 53". Somariba looks very smooth in the chase, she has a very nice style.

17:56 EEST   
The wind is really strong now which is making it hard for Palmer. Cantele has been caught and the bunch has regrouped.

Palmer's lead is still dropping and now has only 20 seconds.

17:59 EEST   
Judith Arndt is riding hard in the bunch and Cooke comes through to take a turn.

Another six riders are off the front. with Arndt, Wood, Cooke, Melchers, Somariba and Olga Slyusareva (Russia). They have about 10 seconds and are catching Palmer.

17:59 EEST   
There has been another crash mid field and Angela Brodtka has gone down. She gets back on and starts to chase.

18:00 EEST   
The group of six riders have caught Palmer and the lead group is seven riders. An Australian is bridging from the peloton. It looks like Carrigan.

18:02 EEST    105.6km/13.2km to go
Arndt is doing a lot of work in the break, perhaps too much. Although she is an amazing motor.

This is a very good group and could be the decisive move as they head to the finish line with a lap to go.

18:04 EEST   
Slyusareva is an excellent sprinter and the other will be wanting to get rid of her before the finish.

The Australians have the advantage with two riders in the break. The US team didn't make the break and Thorburn is chasing hard working for her teammates Barry and Armstrong.

18:05 EEST   
All the riders in the break are coming through to do their turns although Arndt is still doing the most work.

18:06 EEST   
The gap from the seven is coming down now. It's looks like the break is going get caught.

18:07 EEST   
Kristin Armstrong and Pucinskaite are trying to move across to the front group. Carrigan has attacked using the two person advantage.

18:10 EEST   
Armstrong and Pucinskaite made it to the break but the gap is still small to the bunch. If the break can make it to the climb without getting caught it could still work.

Carrigan's move is very timely. If the bunch catches the break now there will be a pause giving Carrigan time to get a further advantage.

Arndt is bridging!!!! This can be a good break away if she catches Carrigan.

18:11 EEST   
The break is not organized in the chase and Arndt is getting close to Carrigan.

18:13 EEST   
Arndt and Carrigan are together now and Arndt goes straight through to do a turn.

Somariba tries to get the break organized to chase as the race hits the climb.

Arndt is really put the pressure on up the climb and Carrigan tries to hold her wheel.

18:14 EEST   
Cooke has attacked hard at the back and is moving fast. Melchers counters with Wood on her wheel. Cooke can go with them and the rest of the break are suffering.

Palmer is getting dropped. The pace is really fast.

18:15 EEST   
Arndt tries to get Carrigan to come through. Melchers is flying behind them with Wood, Cooke and Slyusareva on her wheel.

18:16 EEST   
Arndt is still driving the pace on the front and Carrigan is sitting on her wheel. Carrigan now comes through to do a turn and Arndt loses her wheel.

18:18 EEST   
The gap is growing. Arndt and Carrigan are getting closer to the fight for Gold. The rest of the break are back together. The gap from the lead pair to the break is 15". The rest of the field are another 15" back.

Pucinskaite crashed on the downhill turn. Melchers and Cooke also got caught up in it. This will slow the chase group down.

18:21 EEST   
Arndt and Carrigan are still leading and extending their lead. We are getting very close to the finish.

Somariba attacks the second groupo but they all get on her wheel.

The gap between Arndt/Carrigan and the second group of six is 21".

18:21 EEST   
Melchers attacks and Slyusareva chases. Pucinskaite didn't get back on after the crash.

18:22 EEST    116.8km/2km to go
Only six kilometers to go now. Arndt and Carrigan look like they have made the winning move.

18:22 EEST   
Only a kilometer to go. Arndt is still on the front.

18:24 EEST   
Carrigan is still sitting on and Arndt is doing all the work. Carrigan makes her move!!!

18:24 EEST   
Arndt can't respond and Carrigan takes the win and is Olympic Champion!

18:25 EEST   
Wood leads out the rest of the group but Slyusareva comes around to take third place in front Wood and Cooke.

18:27 EEST   
Carrigan is elated and can't keep the smile of her face. Australia take first and fourth. Arndt definitely gets the most aggressive rider award.

18:28 EEST   
A very smart race by Carrigan. She made her move at exactly the right moment and it paid off.

Results 

1 Sara Carrigan (Australia)                  3.24.25
2 Judith Arndt (Germany)
3 Olga Slyusareva (Russia)
4 Oenone Wood (Australia)
5 Nicole Cooke (Great Britain)

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