15 June 2021

London 2012: Bluffer’s guide to road cycling

June 4, 2012
London 2012: Bluffer's guide to road cycling

There are two road cycling events – the road race and the time trial event.

The road race will be the first chance for Team GB to get a gold on the medal table, when Mark Cavendish goes for glory on July 28, shortly followed by the women’s event the day after.

Venue: Throughout London and Surrey

Date: Saturday 28 July – Wednesday 1 August

Jargon buster

Peloton: The main pack of riders

Drafting: When riders go in single file, tight to the rider’s back wheel in front, in order to minimise the wind resistance

Breakaway: When a small group of riders or an individual break ahead of the main group (peloton)

Lead-out: When a rider sprints ahead, often taking a team-mate with them in draft, to try and put some distance between them and the main pack.

Basic rules

The road race is 140km for women, and will start and finish on The Mall in central London.

The route then passes through six London boroughs – Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth, Richmond upon Thames and Kingston upon Thames – before heading into Surrey where the female riders will tackle the climb of Box Hill twice.

Each road race team is allowed a maximum of four riders, and will be racing with the aim of helping one chosen member of the team secure gold.

This is done by allowing the lead rider to draft other team members so they are conserving energy throughout the race. It is a very strategic event, and teams will aim to get their rider in the best position at the closing stages of the race in order to sprint across the line.

In the time trial event riders start 90 seconds apart and have a 29km single lap route to complete in as fast a time as possible. The race starts and finishes in Hampton Court Palace.

One to watch

Nicole Cooke is the reigning Olympic champion after her memorable victory in Beijing.

However she has not maintained her world beating form in the past couple of seasons and now faces pressure from rising star Lizzie Armitstead to lead the British team. In the time trial Emma Pooley, a silver medallist in Beijing, will be hoping for more success.

Olympic rivalry: Ironically one of the biggest rivalries in the sport right now is between two British riders – Nicole Cooke and Lizzie Armitstead – as they fight for the top spot on the team.

At the World championships last year Armitstead was involved in a crash, with Armitstead seemingly out of the running, Cooke sprinted on to finish fourth, a matter which caused Lizzie to speak out about her team-mates’ apparent lack of cooperation.

At the time, Cooke insisted she complied with team tactics and only rode for herself once Armitstead’s hopes were gone.

Who’s the gold medal favourite?

Whoever does end up leading the GB team, will face strong competition from Marianne Vos (Netherlands) currently ranked number one in the world and Emma Johansson (Sweden) silver medallist in Beijing and world number three.

Emma Pooley will be up against the current world number two Judith Arndt of Germany, the reigning time trial world champion, with the largely flat course in London suiting Arndt’s riding.

Who to follow on twitter…





Road cycling Olympic fact

There are only four athletes who have won medals at both the summer and winter Olympic Games. Clara Hughes of Canada is one of them. In Atlanta 1996, she took bronze in the Individual Road Race

The Women’s Sports Magazine 

Photo credit: British Cycling Flickr


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