|Good afternoon and welcome to our coverage of the women's road race Olympic games 2004. The race for Gold has just started, along the same circuit as the mens yesterday - 67 riders have started this morning - Jeannie Longo is the oldest competitor - the 46 year old is currently at the rear of the peloton enjoying the sights of this beautiful course. Defending champion is the Dutch Leontien Zijlaard - Van Moorsel, who will be accompanied by Mirjam Melchers (silver at the worlds in Hamilton and another candidate to win) and Anouschka van der Zee.
The Road Race Altimetry. Click for larger image. Courtesy UCI.
Refresh this page (F5) to view the latest information. Commentary by Anita van Crey and podofdonny.
Another one of the favorites today is Australia's Oenone Wood. And also Nicole Cooke will be hoping for Gold - although her father was arrested yesterday for painting her name on the road. The father, Anthony Cooke, and another Welshman wanted to show their support for the daughter so they used white paint to write her name on the street, breaching security cordons," a police official told Reuters on Saturday. "They were arrested on the spot." Both men were released later on during the day.
Diana Ziliute (Lit) arrived in Athens well prepared for the roadrace. There she found out there had been a surprising change in plan for the one of the favourites for the women's Olympic road title.
It seems that Ziliute's Lithuanian teammates Rasa and Jolanta Polikeviciute had convinced team director Valerie Konovalovas to replace Ziliute with Edita Pucinskaite at the last minute and without Ziliute's knowledge. Ziliute could still ride the time trial and track events (which she hadn't prepared for) but was nixed in the women's Olympic road race.
Valentyna Karpenko has just had a slight problem with her chain as the ladies approach the first climb of Lycabettus hill. Germany and Holland lead the way on this short steep climb. The first lap of nine and the peloton still all together and still a fairly relaxed pace. Susanne Ljungskog is anther favourite today - she looks relaxed in the peloton, her blonde hair tied back. She of course won the ladies road race in Hamilton and will be looking for Gold today. In Britain there still are some hard feeling regarding whether the Swedish rider was wheelsucking or not.
The peloton lines out on the descent through down town Athens, and once again the crowds can only be described as disappointing - very few spectactors watching - which is surprising when you consider all events at the velodrome are apparently sold out. The Dutch girls still making the pace at the front of the peloton, while Lene Byberg (Norway) has a tumble but manages to get back on the end of the peloton.
The Acropolis once again dominating the scenery, and smiling down on the ladies winding their way across the cobbled section. Which are apparently not cobbles but marble blocks - sort of posh Paris Roubaix.
The famous Orange shirts of Holland still setting the pace as they pass under the flamme rouge for the first time.
Another nice outfit appareantly is worn by Mexican Belem Guerrero Mendez, who cruises Athens today in lilac. Nicole Cooke and her team are wearing special shirts today which are designed like tea bags apparently, they will keep the riders cool and maybe help out at the feed zone.
The wind is much stronger today than it was yesterday. At the other Olympic site the rowing is cancelled due to this. For next days a storm is predicted.
34.5 km/h the average speed on the first lap - 8 laps to go. United States cyclist Kristin Armstrong gets to compete twice today - in her first Olympic road race in the afternoon and again at night in an arbitration case against USA Cycling. Later, an arbitrator is scheduled to hear Armstrong's appeal to race in Wednesday's time trial. The Idaho racer was left out of the race in favor of Iowa cyclist Christine Thorburn when USA Cycling officials made their final roster decision. She is well placed at the minute, near the front of the relaxed looking peloton.
The riders are tightly bunched, and the war of attrition will gradually sort the contenders from the pretenders. Jeannie Longo still in her preferred positioned at the rear of the peloton at the start of a race - though she has often shown she likes to finish the race at the front. Amazing really, she could be the mother of a rider like Nicole Cooke - a true cycling legend.
Through the feed zone, all riders seem to be through safely, no early abandonments so far.
Joane Somarriba, the great Basque rider, is also here today and she will be hoping for gold too as the riders again tackle Lycabettus Hill. The ascent up along the Lycabettus is pretty tight and tricky. Edwige Pitel in trouble with a mechanical, causing panic in the peloton. Bad luck for the French team - the mechanic was slow to reach her and now she has a lot of work to do to chase back on the ascent. Also in trouble on the second climb was Estonian rider Maaris Meier, who was dropped as the road went upwards.
The peloton strung out on the descent, still the orange shirts of Holland and Germany setting a steady pace.
It seems the Dutch go today by the tactics of letting Anouschka van der Zee set the pace in front of the bunch as much as possible. She works all year round for Melchers and Zijlaard-Van Moorsel, a job which gave her the ticket to Athens, more or less. Melchers and Zijlaard-Van Moorsel were appointed to be selected way before the Games, the third spot still was open.
Zijlaard-Van Moorsel made it very clear she wanted her teammate Van der Zee to accompany the two of them. Much to the surprise of the others fighting for the third spot, national coach Van Kessel went with this, not weighing in the other results. Runner up at the nationals, Chantal Beltman, was the main victim, so to say, of this. She really was disappointed, mostly in the way the cycling union communicated with her. But she came to terms with it, and today made the trip to the Dutch tv studio (the one located in Holland, not in Athens) to give her commentary to what happens in the race in Athens.
Over the marbled cobbled section and the Canadian girls move to the front of the peloton, Lyne Bessette, Manon Jutras and Susan Palmer Komar make up the Canadian team as the girls finish lap 2. 7 Laps to go. The speed down to under 34 kilometres an hour - but don't forget it is hot and hilly and a very technical course.
It has become quite windy at the finish line in Athens and this is evident around the course as well. The trees are whipping in certain places. Pitel (France) has managed to rejoin the peloton after her mechanical, so the French ladies are back to full strength.
Longo is protecting her own spot at the rear end of the bunch. She even has her own clothing line for sale. With her popularity, it may be the question who will buy such a thing designed by the gran'dame of cycling (when it comes to results and sticking in cycling....since she the first time was world champion way back in 1985...)
Now Barbara Heeb (Sui) starts to force the pace a little at the front of the peloton she will be riding for Nicole Brandli today. Heeb was the Lugano World champion if I remember correctly - yes. Heeb was named sports person of the year in 1996 and her motto is "The finish is on the top of the mountain." Once again the riders tackle Lycabettus Hill and once again the peloton strings out.
At the finish line a big sun umbrella the Russian commentators were using to try and see something on their little commentary tv decided to go with the wind and took a dive at the course. Much to the happiness of the American tv, who had decided to place a camera at the press stand today....and saw its view blocked by all the sun umbrellas of the various commentators of the various countries. They demanded the umbrellas should go, but apparently the only one listening was the wind....more or less.
Dark clouds along the horizon predicting the weather could well be changing over the next hour or so. The Dutch team asked for bikes with rain tires to replace the ones they are on now when it comes to rain. Rain is forecast for the next day or two in fact. Let us hope it does not start to rain. Rain on such a dry surface will make it very very slippery.
One hour's racing completed - peloton all together - the tension is slowly rising - Sara Symington (GBR) is at the rear of the peloton. Nicole Cooke's team mate was in actual fact born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, and was a former police woman.
15.05 CET, 16.05 Greek time. The peloton, still with the Dutch girls setting the pace, all together as it passes by the Parliament building.
Past the temple of Olympian Zeus, blue skies, marble paves and 67 girls searching for one gold medal.
Three laps now completed as the women roll across the finish line again. Six laps to go, peloton all together.
Once again there was a pigeon sitting in the middle of the street, making the women on bikes ride around him....since he was in this city looooooooooooong before them and will be still when they have left, with maybe a medal more in their luggage. The pigeons have probably not taken kindly to the Olympic disruption of their daily routine...
The Italian team is typically controversial; they have put the emphasis on youth with Giorgia Bronzini, Noemi Cantele and Tatiana Guderzo, an interesting selection. The wind certainly picking up now, Nicole Cooke safely in the centre of the peloton protected from the elements, Longo on the front, setting the pace.
Special mention for Janildes Silva, the only Brazillian in the race. She has been always been near the front of the peloton, as Pitel takes a quick bike change in the pits - Pitel changes back to her original bike.
The first attack! It is Iturriaga for Spain.
The Basque rider opens the "real" race. She has a gap as the race climbs the hill again. She looks very smooth on the Lycabettus Hill as the other French girl has jammed her gears too! It's Huguet.
Huguet riding hard to catch back to the pack. Iturriaga has opened a gap of 30" by the top of the hill, good tactics from the Spanish team - Somarriba will not have to work at the front. Huguet has managed to rejoin the peloton safely.
Crash! Chuzhynova has a flag tangled in her gears...she has sorted it out, and should get back onto the peloton.
Janildes Silva, the Brazilian girl, now tries to bridge the gap. She is in no-woman's land, across the cobbles now.
15.30 CET, 16.30 Greek time. Two hours of racing accomplished now. Silva under the flamme rouge approaching the finish again. Iturriaga is not in sight - Silva has just over a half minute gap. Five laps to go.
The peloton is 1' 14" behind the flying Basque.
So Iturriaga leads, Silva about 40 seconds back trying to bridge and the peloton 1'14" to make up on the leader.
The peloton starts to string out as the pace hots up. And another attack from the peloton, it's Edita Pucinskaite, while Silva is brought back by the peloton. Pucinskaite is brought back as Jutras (Can) attacks. The 36 year old from Quebec is making a big effort to cross the gap to race leader Iturriaga. Meanwhile Iturriaga is just now halfway through this race.
But the peloton have brought Jutras back too, as they pass through the feed zone.
Iturriaga starts the climb of Lycabettus Hill but her lead is dropping and she will be caught on the hill. Great though, to have the chance to see her showing her stuff today.
The gaps, as always, appear on the hill, Nicole Cooke being very attentive near the front of the bunch.
The race now really heats up. It is due to one Zijlaard-Van Moorsel, who sets the pace even higher. Zijlaard-Van Moorsel is followed by another good oldie, Judith Arndt from Germany.
So peloton back together and now another attack, 6 riders have about 50 metres on the peloton. Van der Zee is paying dues for her hard work in the early part of this race, and her teammate stepping on the pedals harder to make the race tougher. She has to let the pack go.
Melchers and Wood, as well as Longo, are present in the front lines of the first group. The first group contains about 30 women. Past Parliament Square again, the peloton just about all back together as they ride over the marble pave. It is very windy, looking down at the treetops from above.
Gollan (Australia) punctures on the pave as the ladies pass the Amphitheatre and start the descent down into town, but she is back in the race very quickly. The riders pass the Acropolis once more. Olivia Gollan is finding her way back, zigzagging between the cars, to the back of the pack.
Dede Demet Barry (USA) has also spent most of the race near the front of the peloton too, but now the pace hots up once again. 4 laps to go. Meanwhile the pigeons have taken over the finish line again.
15.55 CET, 16.55 Greek time. Arndt (Ger) now has a little dig at the front. Sonia Huguet of France attacks.
The first group now numbers 45 women. From the background some women are working their way back to the tail end of the pack. Huguet has a tiny gap.
Zijlaard-Van Moorsel is relaxed, lurking her waterbottle, the pace is down a bit, allowing Van der Zee (amongst some others) to come back to the first main group again. The gap between Huguet and the group is 15 seconds as Pitel sits on the front of the peloton to slow things down for her teammate.
No, it's Longo slowing down the peloton. Zijlaard-Van Moorsel is dictating the bunch, while Huguet is building on her gap. The peloton decide that's not such a good idea and once again the Dutch ladies trake up the pace, with USA, all three riders, near the front. But Longo's efforts have given her teammate nearly one minute advantage. Huguet through the feed zone - takes two bottles. Max van Heeswijk, yesterday's 17th, drank about 10 litres of water (and other fluids) yesterday during the race.
Longo, in an interview, says that by her riding she wants to demonstrate that people over forty (she is 45 years old) can accomplish things - that they are part of society and can make a mark. Up the Lycabettus Hill for the 6th time for Huguet, she looks very smooth but is digging deep.
Huguet, nice Colnago bike, is over the top of the climb and her gap is 42" on the peloton.
It's Canada on the attack again, trying to force the pace and bring back the French girl. The peloton strung out now as Germany try to up the pace. Huguet heading towards Parliament square, the peloton in hot pursuit.
56 women still in position to win, in the first or second group. It is Wood attacking, Arndt goes with her. There are five trying to bridge to Huguet, whose gap has seriously dwindled.
The peloton split like a coconut - riders all over the marble cobbles - Arndt doing great damage. The bunch passes by the entrance of the already famous Holland House, thť spot to be if one is Dutch (sporter or supporter) or just wanting to have a good time. Tonight there will be people lining up to see the performance of the number one DJ of the world, Dutch DJ TiŽsto. This kid performed also during the opening ceremony on Friday as well and is very famous for his trance-music.
Three Australian women in the front group - the group is swelling. There are 11 riders in the front group, other groups chasing to get back on as the race approaches the finish line again. 3 laps to go. The average speed 34.35 kmph. The leading group have 30 seconds.
Arndt, Cooke, Gollan, Thornburn, Somarriba all in the front group. The first group contains 22 women, the other is 26 seconds behind. Longo is not in the first group, she is in the bunch. But the peloton regroups!
Zijlaard-Van Moorsel is looked at by the others, she has to decide what is happening. Now she is the only one setting the pace, so the second group is allowed to get back with the first one. Indurain spotted in the crowd just now...El Rey has come to see the Queen Nicole! Or is that Queen Mirjam? More likely princess Somarriba...she is married to Indurain's mate Ramontxe Arrieta.
Cooke, Brandli, Ljungskog...all the big names, are present in the front lines as was expected. They are accompanied by Lynn Bessette.
Pitel is pulled back, peloton all back together - surely the next climb of the Lycabettus hill will be decisive. Lyne Bessette has a small lead off the front of 15 seconds.
Bessette from Quebec goes through the feed and Rachael Heal (GBR) leads the chase down. Rachel Heal is from Chris Boardman country - the Wirral near Liverpool...Bessette is now on Lycabettus hill and has 25 seconds while the crowds enthusiastically encourage the riders up the narrow roadway.
Looks like all eyes are on Zijlaard-Van Moorsel. She sure is one of the main favourites for yet another gold. After this season she will quit racing and devote her time to husband Michael (nowadays her manager and everything) and having babies...
Still, many women hang in there bravely, looking for the best opportunity to outclass the others.
16.31 CET, 17.31 Greek time. Huguet, the French national champion, has to let go. Van Moorsel still leading the peloton, Bessette still in the lead - Zijlaard-Van Moorsel counterattacks all attacks in the bunch. Just over two laps of 13,2 km to go. The peloton strings out on the descent again.
Nicole Cooke third in line as the chasers pull in Bessette. A spectacular view of Athens as the camera pans back down the hill from Bessette and the chasing riders. Christine Thornburn on the wheel of Cooke, while Melchers keeps her nerves down and in place very well, and cruises along with the main group, not doing too much work. The USA women are still present, all three of them, in the first group.
Through Parliament Square, Bessette still has a little advantage, as the riders start the drag up to the Acropolis.
Palmer-Komar (Canada) counters as soon as Bessette is caught - good racing from the Canadian girls. The wind definitely picking up, shaking the olives off the trees...
Zijlaard-Van Moorsel is forcing up her will to the group in the lead. She watches over every move, controlling whatever happens. Yet another pigeon taking his chance to beat an iron horse...
Arndt's mechanic gingerly attempts to remove a plastic bag that is wrapped around her rolling wheel...Palmer Komar is building a good lead with 2 laps to go.
CRASH!! Bessette down. Zijlaard-Van Moorsel down. She is hurt.
A Greek Tragedy for Moorsel and Bessette. A third rider down as well, but the rest manuevered around. Zijlaard-Van Moorsel went down on the pedestrian crossing - she looked back and crashed while she touched the rear wheel of a Spanish rider. She was run over by the rider she fell in front of - Bessette - this happened at the very front of the pack.
During all her career Zijlaard-Van Moorsel has been afraid of crashing, one reason she always wants to be in front of a group she is riding in. Meanwhile Palmer Komar still has a 50 second gap.
It was Brandli who went over the top of her. Van Moorsel is lifted onto a stretcher. The peloton regroups after this chaos right on the finish line, and it is the Russian girls who pick up the chase. Palmer sees her gap growing in the meanwhile. 1'12" Palmer Komar's lead now on the penultimate lap. Noemi Cantele from Italy attacking to retrieve the Canadian rider.
Palmer is a former cross-country skiier who picked up cycling as training. Seems to be a good choice that she went along with it, since she now is the current leader in this Olympic race. Palmer, however, is beginning to look a little tired, as she tackles Lycabettus Hill. Just once more after this...Sara Symington (GBR) retires.
Noemi Cantele will be caught by the peloton and Cooke is looking good on the climb. Melchers and Somarriba in first positions of the group. World champion Ljungskog is present as well. Palmer over the top of the hill and Cooke now attacks! But she is brought back.
Palmer looking desperately tired. Somarriba leading, in front of a calm looking Melchers. It's Somarriba, Melchers, Cooke, Wood.
But they are caught by what is left of the peloton. Cooke won her first women's race when she was sixteen. As a junior, she was world champion both in road racing and mountain bike.
Arndt again at the front putting the pressure on - Palmers gap is down to 20 seconds. Now Cooke takes up the chase. It is now just before 6 o'clock in the evening in Athens. Wood finally takes over from Arndt in the first positions of the group. She tried to save as much powers as she could. The front riders are flying.
Arndt, Cooke, Wood, Melchers, Ljungskog, and Somarriba all active in the front. Brodka of Germany crashes in a turn. Palmer is caught, Arndt and Melchers pass her. So it's Palmer, Melchers, Wood, Cooke, Slyusareva, Arndt. Another Aussie, Sara Carrigan, joins them. So now the Australian women outnumber the rest, they are with two.
The first ones got rid of Ljungskog as the main contender when it comes to a massive sprint, she is dropped. Now the bell rings at the finish line - the final lap starts.
Arndt, Melchers, Wood, Cooke, Palmer Komar, Somarriba, Slyusareva and Carrigan have 18 seconds on the chasers. It is really good to see Nicole Cooke in the frontlines in such a race, after being out about all season due to a knee operation. Slyusareva is one good sprinter as well, as are also Melchers and Wood.
Sara Carrigan the Australian is working the one-two for teammate Wood. Lituanian Pucinskaite has made her way back to the first group. Kristin Armstrong is also back in the front. Arndt attacks too, going after Carrigan.
Cooke at the front of the chasers, but Wood will not work with her, since she has Carrigan up the road. Sara Carrigan sets a nice pace. Arndt is closing in. Carrigan through the feed zone. The rest of the first group now is in the feed zone as well. Arndt will catch Carrigan shortly.
Arndt and Carrigan together, Somarriba is heading the group.
The two leaders are on Lycabettus Hill. Cooke attacks! Melchers responds. Ahead, the two leaders are digging deep. So is the rest of the group...the remains of it. The Russian riders are parked, Cooke is chasing Melchers on the hill. Palmer Komar is riding square wheels as well. Wood still in there, gap is 7 seconds.
Somarriba is having difficulties following the pace. Palmer and Arndt - Melchers, Wood, Cooke. Armstrong for USA is looking good too. The main bunch is at 47 seconds, Arndt is setting the pace, Carrigan is hanging in. Carrigan now takes up the pace, she takes over, attacks on the descent.
Arndt tries to catch up with her - the chasers don't seem to be closing down the gap. Back together, Carrigan and Arndt. Cooke leading the chasers on the descent. Pucinskaite crashes, right into the far barrier, but is back up.
Melchers took the curve wrong also. Melchers back with Cooke, hunting down the four ahead of them.
21 seconds for Carrington and Arndt. Somarriba attacks.
Melchers and Cooke back with the four, but not many powers left to chase down the duo in the lead...
Arndt is doing the major part of the work. Carrington and Arndt onto the marble pave as Melchers attacks!
Zijlaard-Van Moorsel got a checkup in the hospital, she has bruises on neck, hip and shoulder....and it is doubtful she will compete in Wednesday's time trial.
Wood closes the gap to Melchers, 25 seconds for the two leaders.
It seems to be the two in the lead will battle out gold and silver. Flamme Rouge!
The group is at the flamme rouge as well. Last curve. Arndt in the lead Carrigan wants to keep her there, 500 metres to go - Carrigan has the advantage.
Carrigan goes - Arndt does not counter. Carrigan gets gold!
Battle for Bronze! Slyusareva third, Wood fifth. So Carrigan gets Gold, Arndt Silver, Slyursareva Bronze. Wood is hugging Carrigan and sharing in her happiness.
Great race by the Aussie team - the three Australians are delighted.
A hugely smiling Carrigan says that having Wood there allowed her some latitude - she let Arndt do most of the work. Kristin Armstrong (USA) says she tried to make a move, but was fighting the wind. She has high praise for Carrigan, and says everyone rode a terrific race. She said her team planned to make some moves in the second half of the race, but she believes most of the teams had the same plan. She has high hopes for her team's time trial riders on Wednesday - the two are Christine Thorburn and Dede Demet Barry, and she says they are both very strong.
I think there will be huge disappointment in the Dutch camp, since they more or less already calculated getting the gold, just a matter of whether Melchers or Zijlaard-Van Moorsel would win...
The medals will be presented to the women today by Mr. Jean-Claude Killy (FRA), Member of the International Olympic Committee, an Olympian with three gold medals in Alpine Skiing; flowers to be presented by Mr. Pat McQuaid (IRL), President of the Road Commission and Member of the Directors Committee.
Full race results to come, and thanks very much for joining us today!
Olympic Women's Road Race Results
1 Carrigan Sara Aus 3:24:24
2 Arndt Judith Ger 3:24:31
3 Slyusareva Olga Rus 3:25:03
4 Wood Oenone Aus 3:25:03
5 Cooke Nicole Gbr 3:25:03
6 Melchers Mirjam Ned 3:25:06
7 Somarriba Arrola Joane Esp 3:25:06
8 Armstrong Kristin Usa 3:25:06
9 Pucinskaite Edita Ltu 3:25:10
10 Longo Ciprelli Jeannie Fra 3:25:23
11 Palmer-Komar Susan Can 3:25:37
12 Gollan Olivia Aus 3:25:42
13 Cantele Noemi Ita 3:25:42
14 Valen Anita Nor 3:25:42
15 Thorburn Christine Usa 3:25:42
16 Demet-Barry Deirdre Usa 3:25:42
17 Kiesanowski Joanne Nzl 3:25:42
18 Doppmann Priska Sui 3:25:42
19 Stahurskaya Zinaida Blr 3:25:42
20 Oki Miho Jpn 3:25:42
21 Vandromme Sharon Bel 3:25:42
22 Heal Rachel Gbr 3:25:42
23 Chuzhynova Iryna Ukr 3:25:42
24 Soeder Christiane Aut 3:25:42
25 Worrack Trixi Ger 3:25:42
26 Guderzo Tatiana Ita 3:25:42
27 Wysocka Malgorzata Pol 3:25:42
28 Heeb Barbara Sui 3:25:42
29 Polikeviciute Rasa Ltu 3:25:42
30 Jutras Manon Can 3:25:42
31 Polikeviciute Jolanta Ltu 3:25:42
32 Pitel Edwige Fra 3:25:42
33 Ljungskog Susanne Swe 3:25:42
34 Iturriaga Mazaga Eneritz Esp 3:28:39
35 Garcia Marroquin Evelyn Esa 3:28:39
36 Kachalka Nataliya Ukr 3:28:39
37 Bronzini Giorgia Ita 3:28:39
38 Brandli Nicole Sui 3:28:39
39 Zabirova Zoulfia Rus 3:28:39
40 Huguet Sonia Fra 3:30:30
41 Karami Miyoko Jpn 3:30:30
42 Matusiak Bogumila Pol 3:31:55
43 Karpenko Valentyna Ukr 3:33:35
44 Qian Yunjuan Chn 3:33:35
45 Hayeva Volha Blr 3:33:35
46 Guerrero Mendez Belem Mex 3:33:35
47 Zhang Junying Chn 3:33:35
48 Byberg Lene Nor 3:33:35
49 Lindberg Madeleine Swe 3:33:35
50 Molina Maria Dolores Gua 3:40:43
51 Han Songhee Kor 3:40:43
52 Ruzickova Martina Cze 3:40:43
53 Torp Linn Nor 3:40:43
54 Silva Janildes Fernand Bra 3:40:43
55 Schoeman Anriette Rsa 3:40:43
56 Hyland Michelle Nzl 3:40:43
Did Not Finish
Brodtka Angela Ger
Boubnenkova Svetlana Rus
Ruano Sanchon Dori Esp
Van Der Zee Anouska Ned
Bessette Lyne Can
Zijlaard-Van Moorsel Leontien Ned
Larsson Camilla Swe
Symington Sara Gbr
Holt Melissa Nzl
Kozlikova Lada Cze
Meier Maaris Est