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12 medals including 8 golds for Team GB Paralympic cyclists

Shannon Kennedy
13 Sep 2016

With the track racing over at the Rio Paralympics, Great Britain finish with a table-topping medal haul

The Rio 2016 Olympics are kicking off this weekend with the men’s road race, and it is sure to be one of the spectacles of the whole Games. The route will wind its way past landmarks such as the Copacabana beach and will include two circuits at either end of a flat coastal road. The men’s race will be a 237.5KM route involving a mix of both climbs as well as some cobbles. The women’s race will do two laps of the first circuit and one of the second in their 136.9km race.

The first circuit includes a 2km cobbled sector, the Grumari climb, a 1.2 KM ascent at 7% and the Grota Funda, a 2.1km climb at 4.1%. The route will then turn back along the coast and head for the gruelling climb of the Vista Chinesa.

This 8.5KM stretch at 5.7% is likely where the race will be decided - favouring the climbers and puncheurs among the 144 competitors. They will have to circle three times before heading into a 6KM descent to a flat 20KM run-in to the finish. 

The Favourites 

Vincenzo Nibali

An Italian all-rounder, Nibali is well known for being 'The Shark'. He is one of the strongest stage racers in the world, and while it is thought he is better at winning multi-stage races he's also won single-day races like Il Lombardia and the Italian National Championships. With his Giro D’Italia win from this year under his belt already, big things are expected at Rio from him. He is a highly capable rider without an Olympic medal so this could be the motivation for him to reach the podium.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome wears the yellow jersey on Stage 10 of the 2016 Tour de France

Froome has had an outstanding season and after winning the Tour de France with Team Sky it is expected that Froome will put himself forward for gold. Despite winning the Tour de France there is no guarantee he will be the leader from Team GB, as all five riders are more than capable of being team leader, so Froome could equally see himself in a support role in Rio as the race develops.

Rigoberto Uran 

The first Columbian to reach the podium of the Giro D’Italia, Uran also gained a silver medal at the London 2012 Olympics and it is expected he will use his team to attack gold this weekend. However he comes as part of a strong Colombian team that also includes Esteban Chaves and Jarlinson Pantano. 

Alejandro Valverde

Another outstanding favourite is Alejandro Valverde of Spain, who has proved to be a strong climber, sprinter and time-trialist by being on the worlds podiums six times throughout his career. He won an individual stage during the Giro D’Italia this year as well as at the Tour. Despite an exhaustive season, it is expected he will be on form.

Bauke Mollema

Rather than Mollema himself, the Dutch team in general is very strong in the road race. Along with the recent San Sebastian winner there is also Tom Dumoulin, whose form is uncertain after crashing out of the Tour de France, as well as Wout Poels, who dominated the Tour on behald of Froome, and Steven Kruiswijk, whose Giro performance turned heads earlier in the year.

Julian Alaphilippe

One of the most active riders at the Tour de France this year, the up and coming Frenchman also won the Tour of California this year, as well as coming second at La Fleche Wallonne. The latter is a feat he achieved last year too, as well as second at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. If Alaphillippe has the legs, he will be hard to contain.

Team GB

After winning the Tour de France, Froome is also expected to perform well on Saturday as part of the five strong Team Britain. Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard, Steven Cummings and Adam Yates will join him but it is not known who will lead the team. However, it is expected that Geraint Thomas will support Froome in the way he did during the Tour de France.

The Women's Race

The women’s race on Sunday will involve Lizzie Armitstead, Emma Pooley and Nikki Harris for Team GB and will consist of 67 competitors overall. At present, Lizzie Armitstead is the favourite to win alongside Anna Van Der Breggen of the Netherlands. Armitstead is the current world road race champion, a title that puts her in good stead for the podium, but whether recent news will impact her performance remains to be seen. Both women are prolific all-rounders so this race could be close.

Lizzie Armitstead

Armitstead is riding, and as such has to be favourite. She is the world, commonwealth and national road race champion, she is expected to do well against the same competition she's been beating all year. However, the terrain and climbs may not be best suited to her skills, and the controversy that's surrounded her in the build up could yet have an affect on her performance.

Anna Van Der Breggen

A relatively obscure rider compared to the titles and prestige of Armitstead, she is still none the less a fierce competitor for the top of the podium in this years road race. The 2016 season began with van der Breggen successfully defending her title at La Fleche Wallonne Feminine taking a second successive victory. 

Marianne Vos, Megan Guarnier, Emma Johansson and Elisa Borghini are all proven winners too, and in the right race scenario could all come out as victors. 

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