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Glen Chadwick Olympic Games diary
Glen Chadwick will participate in his first Olympic Games at age 31. He is the second rider of Team Type 1 to get invited. His whirlwind Tour sees him stay in Bejing not longer than necessary. Cyclingnews readers can follow all his action closely.
August 16, 2008
It is time for CRAC and the super squad
Well the day was finally upon us. Went to bed early the night before to get a good sleep, but woke up at 4:30 and rolled around till it was time to get up at 7:30. I guess my mind started to wander and think about the race and other things. From that point on I was gonna be hurting trying to sleep well again. But once I was up, got a good breakfast and a good coffee I was ready to get into it.
It was as clearer day as we were ever gonna get in China and I think and the temp didn't seem so bad either. All the teams piled into a heap of buses and were all taxied over to the start in downtown Beijing, which was a stones throw from Tiananmen Square. When we arrived at the start it was a pretty quiet atmosphere. I don't think it was an easy venue to cruise to and have a look?
Even the sign-on was just at a little table down the end of the starting straight. (The kind of sign-on you'd see at an NRC event) The three of us had cooling vests on before the start; the idea of these is to keep your core temperature down. They work really well. They kept the engine nice and cool for a little while. All the countries were called up one by one in front of the spectators lucky enough to get tickets to start. These were all basically locals or CRAC (Chinese Rent A Crowd). For a lot of events the ticket prices were so low (e.g. BMX at $11) the locals just scooped them all up before anyone else had a chance.
Normally, the road race is one of the only Olympic events that you can watch for free, well that was the case in the first 80 kilometres while we raced out to the circuit. However, once we were out there you couldn't get onto the circuit as they had it completely closed off to everyone. There were two massive grandstands on either side of the finish straight, which were loaded with CRAC.
So the first 80 kilometres were pretty cruisey, but once we hit the circuits... Man, oh man! The problem was that there was a significant break that formed about 20 kilometres to the circuit and the bigger squads USA and Russia missed the move, so the chase was on. To give you a rough idea of the circuit I'll basically say it was a 12-kilometre climb – tailwind – which isn't good. Then followed by a 12-kilometre decent, which was a head wind and you had to pedal down. Every lap was a fast one.
The heat wasn't so bad but the 90+ percent humidity played havoc on the field. It was a race of attrition to say the least and we were all just surviving while the big squads drove the pointy part of the field. With three laps to go the break finally came back after a long chase. I thought "sweet they might take it easy for a bit?"
Bettini also punctured at this point, so I think they slowed for about one kilometre? As Paolo came back through the field I said, "Hey Paolo that wheel change was too quick! I was hoping for a rest." He replied "Sorry Chady." ;) The old heart rate hit 196 a few times and never saw it drop below 180 every lap out through the climb. I don't normally race with this on and now I know why. Definitely plays tricks on your mind.
Now that the peloton was complete again super squad Spain took over. I say "super squad" as the line up was, Alejandro Valverde, Carlos Sastre, Samuel Sánchez and Alberto Contador! Say no more! Oscar Freire was also in the race, but he shut it down early. So the final laps saw Sastre, Contador and Menchov driving the field through the climb. These guys combined have won five Grand Tours and that's not counting the podiums as well! Needless to say, it was on and they blew the race apart – including yours truly.
Towards the end of the third lap I managed to get up to Jules and see if he needed anything else as I was certain the parachute was gonna pop out second last run through the climb. Sure enough, it did, but I wasn't the only one and I managed to get into a nice group to ride out the race. At this point, I was pretty happy to finish my first Olympics and probably the hardest race I'll come across for some time – I hope.
Six hours and forty minutes in the saddle, at least 8000 calories burnt, average heart rate at 161bpm and a total of 3450 vertical metres climbed. I was ready for a beer!
Once we headed back to the village, showered up and headed off to the Oakley Safe House for a few quite Caronas with the troops from Oakley. The night finished with a pit stop at a Budweiser Party and a Haka performed by Tim in front of about 50 Dutch! Nice one!
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Images by Glen Chadwick