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2004 Olympic Cycling - Overview of Road Cycling in Athens
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 8/10/2004
2004 Olympic Cycling - Overview of Road Cycling in Athens

Athens. Courtesy Vacation Greece Network.
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 regular season.

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 standings.

Olympic Competition Sites

Copyright IOC.

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 Mountain Bike.

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 Complex. 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.

The 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 Race Course

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 Race Course

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 Centre
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 Centre

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 S-SW directions.

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 Olympic Venues

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 velodrome.

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...
IOC/Olympic Museum collection.

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.

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