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“It is a tough course, like we were told, but it is not super hard. The distance is of course also a determining factor. I can’t quite compare it with another race. The course is nice and varied."

Photo: Sirotti
04.08.2016 @ 19:08 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tomorrow the Olympic Games officially begin with the opening ceremony at the Maracaña stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The men’s road race is scheduled only one day later. Tim Wellens is part of the Belgian team together with Laurens De Plus, Philippe Gilbert, Serge Pauwels and Greg Van Avermaet.


The road race is 241.5 kilometres long. After the start the 144 participants will ride towards the Grumari circuit, which has to be covered four times. In this first loop, there is a cobble stone section of two kilometres and two hills. The first climb is 1.2 kilometres long and has an average gradient of 9%. The other climb is 2.1 kilometres long and has an average gradient of 4.5%. When the riders have ridden the last lap on the Grumari circuit they will set course to the Vista Chinesa circuit. This loop, which has to be covered three times, contains one long climb of 8.9 kilometres with a six kilometres long descent. When the riders have completed the descent for the last time, about a dozen flat kilometres are left.


The Belgian team did a recon on Tuesday and Wednesday. What does Tim Wellens think of the course?


“It is a tough course, like we were told, but it is not super hard. The distance is of course also a determining factor. I can’t quite compare it with another race. The course is nice and varied," he said. "There are cobblestones in the first loop. It’s a rather long section and they aren’t in a perfect state, but they come too early in the race to play a role. As Belgians we won’t be able to take advantage of it.


“The first circuit contains two short climbs that both have a technical descent with a few curves. The second loop contains the longest and hardest climb of the race. That climb consists of two parts. The first part is rather steep, then there is a downhill section before it goes up again. There is about 500 metres of elevation. You can compare it with two Ardennes climbs right after each other. This climb lies in a wood, that’s a special environment to race in.


“The race doesn’t finish at the top of that last climb. You need to take a technical descent and then you get on a last flat part. The descent isn’t too long so it will be difficult to decide the race on that point, especially if the roads are dry. If you are the best of the pack, you might hold on to your advantage from the top, but you have to be really strong to survive on your own on the flat.


“The fact that it isn’t an uphill finish might cause a different type of rider to win rather than a pure climber. More riders stand a chance. If the pace isn’t too high during the day, an all-rounder could win here. Our coach has listed thirty guys who should be able to ride the finale and then you have the Belgians as well of course. I think we’ll see the suspected riders, like Froome or Valverde. There is a positive vibe in our team and everyone is very motivated. I hope to have a very good day, like all other riders do, but it’s hard to say what I can expect exactly.”



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