Race of the Nations
Venue: Rio de Janeiro
Race schedule: Sunday, 21 April
BMC Racing Team rider Thomas Voeckler (right) rides past riders wearing yellow during race training sessions in Rio de Janeiro
When will yellow flags be re-routed around Brazil ahead of next month’s Tour of South America?
The organisers are working on that but have outlined that none of the roads will be closed off for the event’s Olympic bike race – a race through Rio’s tourist strip to Aparecida.
However, the Rio de Janeiro authorities have organised a three-day international university course titled ‘Tour and Olympian Training’ for the race’s participants.
Course director Johan Leuenberger, a former Belgian national team rider, says the course is to be conducted in Rio’s coastal hills – a course suitable for climbing a total of 60km – although he warns, “We’re not telling you, just listen to us,” after a watchful glance from one of the event’s representatives.
Sunday 21 April, cyclists start the prologue at 7.20am local time. The peloton race clockwise around the beginning of the city’s statue of Christ the Redeemer. Monday 22 April, Final lap at 7.23am local time and the race finishes on Copacabana beach.
The race will start in Sao Paulo and finish in Rio de Janeiro
World and Olympic champion for short-track speed skating, Marielle Thompson, is back for the event. The 26-year-old won bronze at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. But it appears she will spend more time on the road than she expected.
“It’s the fourth year I’m going to the races,” said Thompson on Tuesday morning at the race’s pre-start media conference in Rio. “I wanted to have this race, but was happy to see I didn’t have to cycle through Rio for it.
“Then I was in New York during the Olympics so it’s been a little bit more difficult. But I know my team-mates are having fun with it. They were laughing when we saw the image of everybody riding on the street.”
One of her team-mates is Davey McKay, the president of the Australian outfit, who was seen on the road in Rio on Wednesday morning.
Apparently the Australian team are taking it very seriously – they have already produced this ‘news release’ for TV viewers, outlining in detail just why they feel their bronze medals will be re-awarded to them.
The short track on Tuesday morning was so angry about the closing ceremony at the Rio Olympics in August that they claimed it was about “cultural and ethnic cleansing of Brazil”.
The non-doping offenders
World number one sprinter Usain Bolt and women’s two-time world champion Joanna Rowsell are among the marquee names in this year’s race.
Rowsell’s GB squad are number two behind Sky Bet’s Brad Wiggins’ British Cycling team. Tour de France champion Alaphilippe, Blanco rider Bjorn Daehlie and Australian rider Simon Gerrans, once of Garmin-Sharp, are also competing in Rio.
Media playback is not supported on this device Stage five ride could be blue colour ride
Australian sprinter Dani King, the longest-serving member of the GB team, also returned to the final training session. Last season, she became the first British athlete to compete at the elite level at five different Olympics (London 2012, Beijing 2008, Athens 2004, Sydney 2000 and Atlanta 1996).
“Rio and Manaus are warm-weather events so the only time I’ve been training out there is to get ready for it, to get fit. It’s not to try to get out there and win. That would be stupid for me,” she told BBC Sport.
British cyclists are currently first in the overall World Cup points standings, with Welshman Geraint Thomas winning a stage of the season-opening Vuelta Espana in August.
Just as the riders on Rio’s famed Copacabana seafront were being named on Tuesday afternoon, British Cycling announced British team for World Cup races at which Bradley Wiggins’ staff team-mates Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas are set to compete in April and May.