|Wednesday in Athens. Not so humid. Beautiful outskirts of the city, near the sea. Earlier today it was the women who competed on their 24 km. It was Dutch Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel who beat Deidre Demet-Barry (second) and Swiss Karin Thurig (bronze).
Follow the time trial of the three groups of timetrialers. Please press F5 for regular updates. Commentary by Anita van Crey and Andy McDobbin.
The Time Trial Altimetry. Click for larger image. Courtesy UCI.
As we join the action, it is Belgium's Peter van Petegem who has the best intermediate so far, with Thomas Dekker next to start. That man has sooo much power, he competed at the Dutch nationals TT professionals this season when he was only 18 years of age....and beat them all big time. It was very humid that day in Bergeijk and he just kept on going faster and faster.
Meanwhile Hushovd has a mechanical - he seems to have a bit too much power and tears his frame more or less apart. After the first group of starters, only Van Petegem was faster than Zijlaard-Van Moorsel's intermediate time in the women's TT. With 14.52 at the 12km mark, Frank Hoj is the new leader.
But Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano is like a locomotive; he immediately betters Hoj's time by nearly 24 seconds with a 14.28.30. Meanwhile, young Matej Jurco finishes in 13th, last place so far, 3'55" down on current leader Andrle.
At the finish so far Wacker is the fastest. Wacker is from Kirchizia, while Michael Rogers is warming up. Pena is on his way as well, looking smooth in his Colombian jersey.
Victor Hugo Pena hits the first check with 14.45, 17 seconds down on Gonzalez de Galdeano, to knock Hoj out of second spot with 12km gone. Belgian Marc Wauters on his way, Pena second best intermediate, right after Spaniard Gonzalez de Galdeano. Bugtaster Moreau on his way to the intermediate.
Moreau takes fourth, narrowly outside the time of Wauters - 14.47 for the Credit Agricole leader. With 28.39, Yuri Krivtsov beats Hrazdira's time at the 24km point by a mere 3 seconds and takes the lead.
Dekker, as the youngest in the field, at 12 km is currently is 5th. The TV cameras centre on Moreau, zipping along and catching a fair few insects with his lolling tongue, before switching to Dekker who as a more ungainly style.
Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, his mouth gaping for air like a fish, crosses the halfway mark at 24km as the new leader, 27 seconds ahead of Krivtsov.
Dekker is on a roll, like he has no stagefright at all to conquer with men twice his age and having done many more kms in time trialing.
With 29.35 at the halfway mark, Pena knocks Krivtsov out of second at that check - but the Colombian is still 22 seconds down on Gonzalez de Galdeano. Marc Wauters also demotes Krivtsov a place at the 24km check, by a blink of an eye - he's 27 seconds down on the Spaniard too.
Dekker at the second intermediate - 8th best time. Thomas Dekker is clearly a very strong young man, as he turns his massive big gear. But he's still 37 seconds down.
Meanwhile Eric Wohlberg is rounding a curve.
Hushovd is way down at the 24km check, nearly 1 minute 30 behind the Spaniard. He's never recovered from that unfortunate pedal problem that required him to stop barely 50m from the starting ramp.
Hoj takes fourth at the 36km check, a smidgeon behind Wohlberg in third, who is on a flyer today. IGG best intermediate at 36 km, Kristov second, Hzazhira third. Yes, IGG leads by 23 seconds. He's holding the lead, but isn't putting any real space between himself and the Ukranian.
Meanwhile, Ekimov is preparing himself into detail for his time trial. Dekker on his way to the third intermediate, while former pro and nowadays Australia's national coach Neil Stephens gives Michael Rogers some last minute advice. Evergreen Mark Wauters takes third at the 36km check, knocking Pena into fourth, 31 seconds down on IGG.
Kazechkin from Kazachstan does not finish his TT - he quits along the way. Vinokourov on the ramp, and he is off. The Kazakh looks ultra cool, both physically and in those shades, as he gets up to speed. Moreau clocks 44.59 at the penultimate check, putting him in third.
Gonzalez de Galdeano has an average so far of around 48 km/h.
Hrazdira takes the lead at the finish - he wanted to break the hour, but it looked like his chain slipped. He clocked 1 hour and 7 seconds, knocking compatriot Andrle off the top spot.
Dekker does not lose much to the big guns so far. He clocks the 9th time so far, just behind number 8 at 36 km.
Botero leaves in that multicolour Colombian jersey - he's been unlucky with an apparently undiagnosable illness which drains his energy, therefore reducing him to 'just' an average member of the peloton. I believe the man from Medellin is retiring from cycling because of that, and will instead take up a career in business (after all, he does have a university degree in it!)
Yuri Krivtsov of Ukraine cracks the hour barrier and takes the lead - 59'49" for Ag2r Prevoyance's top time-trialist.
Hushovd in white and red does do a great impression of a Christmas-man on summer holiday in Greece...he better bring some spare bikes as well, given the power Thor works the bike with. Hoj finishes. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano takes the lead with 59'27 - he's setting the standard for the big names. Although he actually lost a second to Krivtstov over the last 12km. In the meanwhile, Fabian Cancellara and Michael Rich are on their way for their 48 km along the seaside.
Serguei Gonchar starts to turn his massive, almost inhuman gear into a rhythm. Eki takes off.
The reigning Olympic champion flies down the ramp to rapturous applause - when he won his first medal, gold in the 4,000m team pursuit at Seoul 1988, Thomas Dekker was only 4 years old!
Pena also takes more than an hour top complete his 48 km...the wind is more present than it was this morning when the ladies rode. Bobby Julich grins at the starting gate at the calls of "Bobby!" from the crowd before leaving for his ride - he looks relaxed, and could be the surprise package today.
Marc Wauters squeezes inside the hour mark! 59 minutes 59 seconds!! While Bodrogi takes off for his 48 km. Vinokourov is 3 seconds ahead of Gonzalez de Galdeano at the 12km mark, and takes the lead there - impressive stuff.
Botero is third after 12km, 5 seconds down on Vino. Dekker finishes.
Tyler Hamilton leaves the start gate - after a top 20 in the road race, many people believe it'll be a battle between him and Jan Ullrich for gold today.
Dekker 11th, 1.00,38. And the last man goes! Jan Ullrich, looking cool as a cucumber, leaves the starting gate. In about 58 minutes will his efforts be converted into a gold medal?
Bobby Julich looks rather like the Hunchbank of Notre Dame, with a bump on his back sticking out. It's probably his two-way radio to the man in the US team car. Hushovd at the finish, 1.03,18, we believe. Yes...19th place, he never recovered from his awful start.
Fabian Cancellara takes first at the 12km check, a mere 1 second inside Vinokourov's time. However, Cancellara is notorious for his fast starts, so we might see him fizzle out later on. Michael Rich powers his legs right on the pedals, to the best intermediate at 12 km. 14.21 for the Gerolsteiner man, it's really hotting up now.
But now Ekimov smashes his time by nearly 7 seconds to take the lead a quarter of the way through!
Hamilton loses his communication, busy with too many other things when he should be concentrating at his TT. Looked like he meant to lose it; he thew it onto the road. Julich takes a solid 5th at the first check, 11 seconds down on Ekimov.
Bodrogi belies his high starting position with an average 10th at the first check, just under 30 seconds down. Whilst at the same check, Rogers takes second, just 1.88 down on Ekimov. The Dutch judoka Mark Huizinga takes bronze in whatever category he is in, as the men on bikes compete under the Athens sun.
Vino half way through his day job today. With 14.18, Hamilton is third, just 4 seconds down on Ekimov. It's still really tight...
Ullrich 8th at the intermediate, loses 18 seconds to Ekimov...a steady start I suppose, considering he tends to just get better as the kilometres roll by.
Hunter and Pozzato did not start this time trial, so we have two less competitors in Athens at the Olympics. Michael Rogers hammers out of the saddle briefly on a slight drag, his Time whirring. It's a superb bicycle make, with its 2003 model the Time XRS recently voted Road Bike of the Year by an English cycling magazine.
The Dutch are on the roll and throw at the tatami, taking silver and bronze, and gold in the women's time trial this morning. The gold in the men's event is yet to be decided.
Honchar is 12th, 41 seconds off the pace, at the halfway mark. This is disappointing from the Ukranian, and it will be hard for him to turn things around in the next 24km. 28.42 at the intermediate for Rich, the fastest so far at the halfway mark. This is 20 seconds faster than Botero's time. Ekimov still the fastest half way through, gaps are very tiny though...
This is amazing. Ekimov cuts nearly 10 seconds off Rich's halfway standard. Julich is only a very close third at the 24km mark, 10 seconds down on Ekimov.
Bodrogi is letting down, 44.42 at the intermediate. At the 36km, Vinokourov has wrestled 5 seconds from Gonzalez de Galdeano to take the lead there. 28.35 for Hamilton at halfway puts him third, just over 5 seconds down. It's still so tight!
Athens seems to have attracted a great crowd to cheer on the hardworking men. Even more people are couch supporters, wathing tele or via the internet. In times of Olympia, people all over the globe keep missing sleep, since they wandered out of their country of birth to check on the results of their countrymen.
Ullrich has so much work to do: at halfway he's 38 seconds behind Ekimov! Ullrich 7th on time so far, way behind Ekimov. Ullrich has not had his best day, even when it is his kind of weather...Rogers on the gold course, overtaking Bodrogi.
Looks like Bodrogi repassed Rogers on the descent there - a bit cheeky. Ekimov is flying around the well designed, wide-laned roads of Athens. He is battling out the gold with Michael Rogers. Honchar at 36 km, 14 th at the check. 1'14 down for the Ukranian, very disappointing.
Rich has the best intermediate at 36 km.
Michael Rich beats Vinokourov's time at the 36km check by 33 seconds! It could be gold for the veteran Gerolsteiner man, and who'd say he doesn't deserve it after all his second places in big time trial events? But no. I forgot about Ekimov - he must have petrol, not blood, running through his veins. He rockets through the penultimate check to beat Rich's time by 18 seconds.
Julich is close to Ekimov's best time at the intermediate, 43,34 so far. He is second at the 36km check, 6 seconds behind Ekimov. He's just been getting better and better...
Rogers was just 4 seconds behind Ekimov, Hamilton 6 behind the Russian. Rogers: 43,29, one second behind Ekimov. Vinokourov at the finish line: 58,58. Best time so far. But! Tyler Hamilton has the lead with 12km to go! He cracked Ekimov's time by nearly 5 seconds!
Botero 59,29 at the finish, second so far. That's 6 seconds down on Vino. A good ride, back nearer to the form we saw him produce in 2002.
For the three medals there seem to be four candidates to fight it out: Ekimov, Hamilton, Rogers and Julich...
Bobby Julich sure is doing a great job, showing his powers throughout the 48 km, and possibly Rich too. Ullrich on the contrary has an off day. Hamilton looked to be giving it everything though; can he hold on? America have already had silver today in the Women's event with Dede Demet-Barry. Time to go one better?
But I suspect Rich's gap is toooooo big already to close in the last quarter of the race. This is going to be good...
Hamilton looks to be wincing in pain as he rides on - to win would be all the more remarkable, having lost his earpiece early on.
Honchar finishes 15th, 2'22" down - nowhere near as good as he can ride. Ekimov finishes with 57'50, 18 seconds ahead of Rich. He's done everything he can to defend his title today, a superb showing from Eki.
Second place at the finish for Julich - 57:58, 7 seconds down on Eki. Hamilton is catching Bodrogi, who is having a torrid time today in the heat.
Now every second counts, but every muscle hurts as Rogers and Hamilton plough down the descent, whirring a massive gear. Rogers takes third with 58:01 at the finish. It's not happened for him.
Hamilton surely has gold...YES! He does win with 57,31!
Julich bronze, Eki silver. Jan Ullrich's still on the road...Germany's man cannot live up to his role of favorite for the gold. His time is 59:02, for 7th, while the former bookkeeper and alpine skiier now wins a gold medal in the time trial at the 2004 Olympics! A great day for cycling for the US today - Demet-Barry took silver this morning, and now Hamilton and Julich have completed the spread of medals.
The top ten reads like a who's who of cycling - or at least time trialing! The youngster and only true amateur in this field, Thomas Dekker, finished 21st - beating Bodrogi and Honchar. So he sure has an even greater future awaiting him, with this Olympic experience in his luggage.
Eric Wohlberg finished somewhere between 11th and 16th, I think - superb from him too. He beat stars like Honchar and Van Petegem! A great result also from Cancellara, in tenth.
Brief Results - Unofficial
1. Tyler Hamilton
2. Viatcheslav Ekimov
3. Bobby Julich
4. Michael Rogers
5. Michael Rich
6. Alexandre Vinokourov
7. Jan Ullrich
8. Santiago Botero Echeverry
9. Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano
10. Fabian Cancellara
What an exciting contest - thanks so much for joining us today.
1 Hamilton Tyler Usa 57:31.74 (50.062 km/h)
2 Ekimov Viatcheslav Rus +0:18.84
3 Julich Bobby Usa +0:26.45
4 Rogers Michael Aus +0:29.93
5 Rich Michael Ger +0:37.72
6 Vinokourov Alexandre Kaz +1:26.40
7 Ullrich Jan Ger +1:30.30
8 Botero Echeverri Santiago Col +1:33.02
9 Gonzalez De Galdeano Igor Esp +1:55.51
10 Cancellara Fabian Sui +2:10.64
11 Krivtsov Yuriy Ukr +2:17.66
12 Moreau Christophe Fra +2:18.54
13 Wauters Marc Bel +2:27.89
14 Hrazdira Michal Cze +2:35.49
15 Pena Grisales Victor Hugo Col +2:38.15
16 Gutierrez Jose Ivan Esp +2:51.06
17 Andrle Rene Cze +2:55.55
18 Wohlberg Eric Can +2:59.75
19 Van Petegem Peter Bel +3:03.99
20 Hoj Frank Den +3:05.75
21 Dekker Thomas Ned +3:06.31
22 Bodrogi Laszlo Hun +3:12.57
23 Honchar Serhiy Ukr +3:28.73
24 Vakker Evgeny Kgz +3:49.36
25 Paulinho Sergio Por +3:53.89
26 Joachim Benoit Lux +4:18.72
27 Bertogliati Rubens Sui +4:44.82
28 Arvesen Kurt-Asle Nor +4:49.54
29 Petrov Evgeni Rus +5:18.58
30 Dangerfield Stuart Gbr +5:28.98
31 Krupa Dawid Pol +5:35.31
32 Hushovd Thor Nor +5:38.62
33 Blackgrove Heath Nzl +5:48.37
34 Lovkvist Thomas Swe +6:11.96
35 Stangelj Gorazd Slo +6:14.10
36 Jurco Matej Svk +6:50.84
37 Kohut Slawomir Pol +8:47.55
Did Not Start
Kashechkin Andrey Kaz
Pozzato Filippo Ita
Hunter Robert Rsa