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29th Olympics - Men's Time Trial Preview
By Nick Bull
Date: 8/12/2008
29th Olympics - Men's Time Trial Preview

Olympic Men's Time Trial Preview
The riders, the course, favorites, start times, Olympic Time Trial history and "outsiders"

August 13th - Olympic Road Race
Beijing 47 km Time Trial

After two lively road races last weekend, the Men's Olmypic Time Trial looks destined to be another intriguing event. The finishing circuit at Badaling will be used again, with two laps of 23.5 km,  making up the 47 km route.

The Riders
Fresh from taking the two Time Trials in the Tour de France, Stefan Schumacher is many people's tip for the Gold medal. The route of the first victory in Cholet was far from flat; this course is of a similar nature so the German is arguably the favourite. He rode in the Road Race, however dropped off the back of the peloton a number of laps into the circuit and retired before the end.

Stefan Schumacher - Stage 20 Tour de France TT
Photo © 2008 Simon Alderson

His main competition is likely to come from the current World Time Trial Champion, Fabian Cancellara, who is fresh from taking the Bronze Medal in Saturday's event. He looked very strong on the climbing section up to the Great Wall, and the way he bridged the gap from the Evans group to, first, the Kolobnev/Rogers duo then the Rebellin, Sanchez and Schleck group shows how the flat sections around on the approach to the finish are perfect for him.

Fabian Cancellara - World Champion Stage 20 Td'France
Photo © 2008 Simon Alderson

He may be in the twilight of his career, however Levi Leipheimer is the American medal hope. On his day, he is a superb rider against the watch, as proved by his victory in the Stage 19 Time Trial in the 2007 Tour, as well as dominating a hard-fought and competitive Prologue in this year's Dauphine Libere. On both occasions he beat Cadel Evans, who is also regarded a strong rider in this discipline - even though those with a short memory may only recall his failure to gain substantial time on Carlos Sastre in the Maillot Jaune showdown at the end of the recent Tour de France. He could well be overshadowed by his fellow Australian Michael Rogers, whose performance in the Road Race was his strongest showing in an injury-plagued twelve months. World Time Trial Champion on three occasions, he has struggled against Cancellara in their competitive meetings since 2006.

Cadel Evans, Stage 20 at the tour, can the determined Aussie overcome his recent injuries and claim a place on the Olympic podium? Photo © 2008 Simon Alderson

The Route
Some of those who took the start for the Road Race on Saturday will be fully aware of how difficult this course can become when the pace is very high. From the start, the first 12 km are uphill on twisting roads. There is some shelter for the riders, and also a sprinkler can be found a few kilometres from the top. Many riders were seen using this during the Road Race, when humidity was around the 90% mark. The descent is fast and takes place on rather wide roads; in the wet conditions during the Women's Road Race, the pace was unbelievably slow. Despite a few twists and turns, the width of the road means that any struggling riders will be in the sight lines of any fast emerging riders from behind. This course becomes flat with around 4km of the lap to go, although the approach to the finishing straight - coming after a road toll, where a perfect line may be the difference in times - is slightly uphill.

Wild Cards
Aside from the favourites, a number of riders might be considered because of their recent and past performances for a slot in the "Outsiders" to surprise with a top ten or better performance. Surely Sammy Sanchez after his performance in the road race; and compatriot Alberto Contador may find the course particularly suited to his climbing talents. Columbian Santiago Botero and American Champion David Zabriskie who both reportedly prepared at altitude for this race. I'd hasten to add Denis Menchov's name and Marzio Bruseghin who won the brutal mountain time trial. Every fan will have their own favorite in the days effort... As in any high prestige one-off event, and the Olympics is undoubtedly the highest in this class, can inspire a rider to put in the performance of his lifetimr to defy the odds and pundits for a gold medal. Either way it will be a most interesting event later today. Join us for the live coverage later today or tomorrow depending on your geographic location. 

Botero Stage 1 Redlands... can the Columbian find redemption in Beijing?
 Photo © 2008 Action Images

The organisers will certainly hope for a less controversial Time Trial compared to that which occurred in Athens four years ago. Despite crashing heavily during that year's Tour de France, Tyler Hamilton rode a superb Time Trial, also claiming after the race that he had little communication with his Team Car throughout. He beat the 2000 Champion Viatcheslav Ekimov by nineteen seconds, and fellow American Bobby Julich by a further eight seconds.

Shortly after the race, Hamilton failed a blood test, which showed signs of 'mixed red blood cell population, an indication of a homologous blood transfusion. The testing laboratory spoiled the back-up sample, therefore the IOC deemed that there was no concrete proof of banned activity. Just over a month later, Hamilton failed a test in the Vuelta, and this time his B Sample proved Cycling's suspicions.

Olympic Time Trial, Athens 2004
1. Tyler Hamilton (USA) 57:31.74
2. Viatcheslav Ekimov (RUS) 57:50.58
3. Bobby Julich (USA) 57:58.19

It was the aforementioned Ekimov who was the surprise winner in the heat of Syndey. Much of the pre-race talk was of the battle between the then twice Tour de France Champion Lance Armstrong and recently crowned Olympic Road Race winner Jan Ullrich. Armstrong had beaten Ullrich in the prologue and two Time Trials during that year's Tour, however Ullrich looked far more comfortable here. Ekimov's time had stood for a short while, and when Ullrich missed it by eight seconds, it was clear that the Russian was going to take the Gold. US Postal almost replicated what the Telekom team did the road race, however only two of their three riders (Ekimov and Armstrong) took the medals. (Ullrich, Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Kloden came home in a Telekom 1-2-3 in the Road Race.)

Olympic Time Trial, Sydney 2000
1. Viatcheslav Ekimov (RUS) 57:40
2. Jan Ullrich (GER) 57:48
3. Lance Armstrong (USA) 58.14

Fresh from a crushing defeat in the 1996 Tour, Miguel Indurain took his final victory of his illustrious career in the Olympic Time Trial. The Spaniard was seeking a record sixth Tour victory, however was overshadowed by the Telekom duo of Bjarne Riis and the emerging Jan Ullrich. He struggled to follow in the Mountains and his Time Trialing was a long way off that in 1995, where he took two victories against the watch.

The 52 km route was completed by Indurain in just over one hour, and at a speed of around 49km/h. Fellow Spaniard Abraham Olano trailed by twelve seconds and Britain's Chris Boardman - who had been the 1992 Olympic 4km Pursuit Champion.

Olympic Time Trial, Atlanta 1996
1. Miguel Indurain (ESP) 1:04:05
2. Abraham Olano (ESP) 1:04:17
3. Chris Boardman (GBR) 1:04:36

Provisional Start List
Full selection rules can be found here. All times are local for Beijing, the men go off at 1:30 intervals with three groups of 13. The first Men's Group leaves at 13:30 Beijing time or 1:30 AM New York City (Eastern Daylight Time) adjust the time for your time zone. Live video of the race in the USA is available online on NBC.

Olympic - Men's Time Trial Start List
Group 1 13:30 - 13:48:00
13:30:00 39 Medici Matias  - Argentina 19750629
13:31:30 38 Beppu Fumiyuki  - Japan 19830410
13:33:00 37 Askari Hossein - Iran 19750323
13:34:30 36 Tuft Svein  - Canada 19770509
13:36:00 35 Kvasina Matija  - Croatia 19811204
13:37:30 34 George David  - Republic of South Africa 19760223
13:39:00 33 Kiryienka Vasil  - Belorussia 19810628
13:40:30 32 Jurco Matej  - Slovakia 19840808
13:42:00 31 Kostyuk Denys  - Ukraine 19820313
13:43:30 30 Cummings Stephen  - Great Britain 19810319
13:45:00 29 Vandborg Brian Bach - Denmark 19811204
13:46:30 28 Belohvosciks Raivis  - Latvia 19760121
13:48:00 27 Gesink Robert  - Netherlands 19860531

Group 2 14:30 - 14:48
14:30:00 26 Spilak Simon  - Slovakia 19860623
14:31:30 25 Taaramae Rein  - Estonia 19870424
14:33:00 24 Grivko Andriy  - Ukraine 19830807
14:34:30 23 Hesjedal Ryder  - Canada 19801209
14:36:00 22 Mizurov Andrey  - Kazakhstan 19730316
14:37:30 21 Niemiec Przemyslaw - Poland 19800411
14:39:00 20 Monfort Maxime - Belgium 19830114
14:40:30 19 Nibali Vincenzo  - Italy 19841114
14:42:00 18 Zabriskie David  - USA 19790112
14:43:30 17 Bodrogi Laszlo  - Hungary 19761211
14:45:00 16 Soerensen Chris Anker  - Denmark 19840905
14:46:30 15 Grabsch Bert  - Germany 19750619
14:48:00 14 Menchov Denis  - Russia 19780125

Group 3 15:30 - 15:48
15:30:00 13 Sanchez Samuel - Espana 19780205
15:31:30 12 Botero Santiago  - Columbia 19721027
15:33:00 11 Bruseghin Marzio  - Italy 19740615
15:34:30 10 Rogers Michael  - Australia 19791220
15:36:00 9 Karpets Vladimir  - Russia 19800920
15:37:30 8 Kirchen Kim  - Luxembourg 19780703
15:39:00 7 Larsson Gustav  - Sweden 19800920
15:40:30 6 Leipheimer Levi  - USA 19731024
15:42:00 5 Clement Stef  - Netherlands 19820924
15:43:30 4 Contador Alberto  - Espana 19821206
15:45:00 3 Evans Cadel  - Australia 19770214
15:46:30 2 Schumacher Stefan  - Germany 19810721
15:48:00 1 Cancellara Fabian  - Switzerland 19810318

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