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From the pages of Velo: Britain takes center stage

  • By John Wilcockson
  • Published Jul. 27, 2012
  • Updated Nov. 5, 2013 at 5:31 PM EST
Velo Magazine, March 2012. Photos: Graham Watson; Harry How, Bryn Lennon, Carl De Souza | Getty

An American Sprinter in London

Farrar’s take on the Olympic road race

With its nine laps over Box Hill, followed by a 50km run-in to the finish on The Mall in central London, the men’s Olympic road race course is one of the most interesting routes in recent memory — made all the more interesting given the fact that each nation’s five-man team will not use race radios. Will sprinters like Mark Cavendish, Matt Goss and André Greipel be dropped on Box Hill, and if so, will the race come back together before the finish line? Or will fast-finishing power riders like Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd fight to keep the race separated to the line? We asked American sprinter Tyler Farrar how he sees the race playing out, and what that might mean for him. At the test event last summer, Farrar was tangled up in a late-race crash and was unable to contest the sprint, won by Cavendish.

“It’s an interesting course,” Farrar said. “The run out to the circuit and run back in are really easy, fairly straight, flat roads; it’s 50km each way. The circuit itself is a lot harder than people have been giving it credit for. It’s pretty nasty. In the test event, we only did two laps. When you have to do nine laps in the Olympics, that’s really going to wear on people.

“The climb is longer than I was led to believe before I saw it. There’s no recovery on the circuit — left-right, updown, small roads. If it was a regular WorldTour race, with eight-rider teams and race radio, it would be one thing, but with five-man teams in the Olympics and no race radio, I think it’s going to break up a lot on the circuit. It will be hard to reorganize things, with only five riders and a lack of communication. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I think it will break up, so the question is whether it will come back together on that 50km run back into London.

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