Athens. Courtesy Vacation
Once every four years, the road racing season takes on a new dimension -
riders have the potential of an additional calendar item - the Olympic Games.
You can be sure that since at least last year, they have had a special eye toward this season...they have had to perform well to gain a potential spot on their nation's
team, without forgetting to carefully gauge their form for mid-August while they race through the
Now the selected athletes travel to an ancient and historic city, Athens, site of the first modern Olympics in 1896, and home to incredible works of architecture.
This is the third time the city has hosted the modern Games.
Look for lots more this week on the selection process for Olympic cycling
competitors, as well as additional articles profiling the favorites, a look at
some of the countries' teams, start lists, not to mention race reports and
Olympic Competition Sites
Olympic Cycling Events
The Olympic Cycling competition will be held over 15 days, from 14 to 28
August 2004. The
competitions will consist of the disciplines of Road Cycling, Track Cycling and
Road Cycling events will occur on 14 and 15 August (Road Racing)
and 18 August (Time Trial). Road Race events will take place at the
Athens Historical Centre (Athens City Centre Cycling Road Race Course), while
Time Trial will take place at the Vouliagmeni Olympic Centre, a Southern Attica
suburb near the seaside.
Track Cycling events will run from 20 to 25 August. Track Cycling
races will take place at the Olympic Velodrome of the Athens Olympic Sports
Track Cycling at the Olympics.
Mountain Bike events will run on 27 and 28 August (Days 14-15). Mountain Bike
races will take place at the Parnitha Olympic Mountain Bike Venue, the
northernmost cycling venue.
The maximum number of athletes who will compete in the cycling competitions at
the Athens 2004 Olympic Games will be 480 - 145 men and 67 women will participate in Road Cycling
events (a total of 212 riders); 153 men and 35 women will participate in Track
Cycling (a total of 188 riders); and 50 men and 30 women will participate in
Mountain Bike events (a total of 80 riders).
Parcours and Schedules
The Road Race
The Road Race is a 13.2km circuit, held on public roads and avenues,
especially designed for Olympic competition. This event has been part of the
Olympics since 1896, which saw a Greek winner, by the way. However, the women's
Road Race was not introduced to the Olympics until 1984.
The Road Race Altimetry. Click for larger image. Courtesy UCI.
The Road Race is a mass start event, in which the first rider to complete the
total distance is declared the winner. Men will compete for 17 laps, covering a
total distance of 224.4 km, and women will compete for 9 laps, covering a
distance of 118.8 km. Starting positions will be allocated according to the
countries' best riders finishing places at the previous year's World
Championships. The higher placed countries will be positioned at the front
of the group.
13.2km circuit will start outside the Athens Town Hall, in front of Kontzias
Square, will pass Omonoia Square, the Polytechnic School of Athens, the National
Museum, the Cultural Centre of Athens, and then, crossing Kolonaki Square, will
climb Lycabettus Hill. Descending and following Vassilisis Sophias Avenue, the
circuit will pass in front of the Parliament and the National Garden, turning
right to pass just outside the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the Acropolis. After
a small descent, it will cross the Thission Square before entering the last
kilometre to finish in front of the Town Hall.
Click on the map at the left to see some of the ancient landmarks the riders will pass. Map courtesy
Harry's Athens Greece Guide.
Road Racing Schedule
14 August 2004
Men's Road Race 12:45 - 18:40 Athens City Centre Cycling Road Race Course
Men's Road Race Medal Ceremony 18:55 - 19:10 Athens City Centre Cycling Road
15 August 2004
Women's Road Race 15:00 - 18:30 Athens City Centre Cycling Road Race Course
Women's Road Race Medal Ceremony 18:45 - 19:00 Athens City Centre Cycling Road
The Individual Time Trial
The Time Trial will be a 24km course, following the seaside from Vouliagmeni
to Agia Marina and back.
The course will start south of Athens, from Vouliagmeni beach, following a
route along the seaside, passing Variza beach to Agia Marina, a small town in
Attica, which will be the turning point for the riders.
There will be one lap for the women, starting in one wave, and two laps for
the men, starting in three waves. In the individual Time Trial, competitors
start at 90 second intervals and compete for a distance of 24 km for women and
48 km for men. The rider with the fastest time is declared the winner. The
maximum number of participants for the individual Time Trial event will be 65
men and 25 women.
The Time Trial Route. Click for larger image. Courtesy UCI.
Time Trial Schedule
18 August 2004
Women's Individual Time Trial 13:00 - 14:10 Vouliagmeni Olympic Centre
Women's Individual Time Trial Medal Ceremony 14:25 - 14:40 Vouliagmeni Olympic
Men's Individual Time Trial 15:00 - 18:30 Vouliagmeni Olympic Centre
Men's Individual Time Trial Medal Ceremony 18:45 - 19:00 Vouliagmeni Olympic
The Time Trial Altimetry. Click for larger image. Courtesy UCI.
Weather - Athens in August
Mean daily maximum and minimum temperature: 33.2 C / 20.7 C
Athens is mainly located on the Attica plain. High surface temperatures are
often observed in the Athens urban basin during the summer time. The temperature
in Attica varies to a fair degress, due to the existence of urban areas and the
proximity of water bodies. Gentle sea breezes contribute to more comfortable
temperatures near the coasts, while within the urban centre the surface
temperature is much higher. However, the discomfort index has a low value
because of the low humidity.
The Ultra Violet (UV) index is at its most intense from 11:00 to 17:00. The UV index in the Athens area
is similar to those occurring
generally in Southern Europe or Central USA during the summer and in Sydney
during September to October.
During the summer, the Aegean Sea is influenced by strong Northern winds,
called the Etesians (Meltemia). Although these local winds affect mainly the
Aegean Sea and the islands, they also affect the Athens area. In the eastern
part of Attica, the sea breeze blows from SE to NE, while in the western parts,
the wind conditions are more complicated, as the sea breeze generally blows from
Summer showers or thunderstorms can occur due to excessive ground heating,
often in combination with upper level disturbances and pools of cold air. There
are, on average, two days of showers or thunderstorms during August.
Current Weather at
History of Cycling at the Olympic Games
Cycling is one of the few sports that has been on the programme of every
Olympic Games. The programme has varied but now consists of road races, track
races and mountain biking. Road racing has been on the programme of every
Olympic Games with the exception of 1900, 1904 and 1908. In Athens in 1896, the
original Olympic road race took place on the marathon course, with the riders
travelling from Athens to Marathon and then returning to Athens' Phaliron
An individual road race was contested at the 1896 Olympics and at all of the
Olympic Games since 1912. The longest road race in the Olympics was in 1912
(Stockholm). The course was 320km (199 miles), in fact, the longest race of any
kind in Olympic history. A team road race event was also on the programme from
1912 to 1956. This event consisted of adding up team placements from the
individual road race.
In 1960, the team road race was replaced by a 100 kilometre team time trial. The team time trial was dropped from the Olympic
programme after the 1992 Olympics, and the individual time trial on the road was
returned to the programme after 64 years of absence. Women began competing in
cycling at the Olympics in 1984, with an individual road race as the only event.
In 1996 and 2000, women also competed in an individual time trial, similar
to the men.
The Official Athens 2004 website
International Olympics Committee website
Find about each of the
modern Olympic Games
The Olympic Torch Relay
Antwerp 1920 - Time trial start for a British rider. My, how
things have changed...
Copyright IOC/Olympic Museum
Updated 14 August 2012. Reader Phil Genders wrote in to say: The British rider in the Antwerp Olympics picture at the bottom of this page is my grandfather, Harry Genders (1890-1971). He finished 9th in the time trial.
Thank you very much for this information, Phil!
Grateful acknowledgement to the International Olympic
Committee and the Union Cycliste International.