Men’s Tokyo Olympics 2020 road race: live updates as Yates brothers and Geraint Thomas carry Team GB hopes – REUTERS
Sagan gets into early breakaway!
No, not that one, but his brother Juraj Sagan, part of Slovakia’s two-man team in today’s race, has buried himself in the day’s first breakaway. Sagan is alongside Michael Kukrle (Czech Republic), Nic Dlamini (South Africa), Eduard-Michael Grosu (Romania), Polychronis Tzortzakis (Greece), Orluis Angular (Venezuela), Ruidong Wang (China), Elchin Asadov (Azerbaijan) in an eight-man break that has gained 2min 30sec on the relaxed-looking peloton.
There are two WorldTour riders here – Dlamini (Qhubeka NextHash) and Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) – while one of them was in action at the recent Tour de de de France. Dlamini made a little bit of history at the Tour when he became the first black South African to compete at the world’s biggest bike race, though he left by the side door after missing the time cut during a brutal day in the mountains in stage nine.
Hello folks, and welcome to our live rolling blog from the men’s Olympic road race, the 234-kilometer drag from Musashinonomori Park to Fuji International Speedway in Japan. The riders have navigated their way through the neutralized section of the race, passing by some beautiful-looking temples and some surprisingly big crowds, and the officials have got the racing underway proper.
Wiggins: ‘Pogacar will be marked, man.’
According to former Tour de France and Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins, favorite Tadej Pogacar will be a “marked man” as he attempts to claim gold in the Olympic road race.
Pogacar claimed his second consecutive Tour de France title on Sunday by a handsome margin and is tipped as the man to beat in Tokyo.
Wiggins, who won the 2012 Tour de France and the time trial at the London Olympics a couple of weeks later, believes it might be a tough ask of the 22-year-old Slovenian in the heat and humidity, and with such a quick turnaround.
“Naturally, he will be a bit tired coming off the Tour and regardless of form, it’s always difficult, just the emotional side of winning the Tour de France and trying to back up,” Wiggins, an expert for Olympic broadcaster Discovery, told Reuters by Zoom on Friday.
“He was on my flight out on Monday, and he looked pretty fresh, to be honest, but it’s always difficult, and there are the likes of Wout van Aert who finished the Tour super strong, so he will have some tough challenges. “But if anyone can do it, it’s Pogacar because he’s a phenomenon of the sport, but he’s going to be a marked man, that’s for sure.”
Pogacar trained on the course on Thursday and described the humidity as “awful” and the final 6.5-km Mikuni Pass climb at 11% average gradient as “brutal.” Still, his team manager believes he will be ready to go full out on the 234-km course described as the toughest in Olympic history.
“I think he has regenerated. They are predicting slightly lower temperatures for Saturday, it would definitely be better if that came true, but otherwise, I don’t see any problems,” Andrej Hauptman, Pogacar’s sports director at the UAE Emirates Team, told Slovenia’s RTV.
“He also rode great on the Tour in some hot stages, so I’m not worried. He is also motivated to the maximum. He didn’t even finish the race in France particularly exhausted.”
Primoz Roglic, a two-time Vuelta de Espana champion, is Pogacar’s team-mate and medal rival, although he is probably eyeing the time trial on Wednesday. Slovenians Jan Tratnik and Jan Polanc will be working for their more illustrious compatriots.
While Slovenia is expected to medal, Hauptman said the race could be difficult to control. “In cycling, the top is very wide open, and one-day races are something special,” he said. “Teams will not have eight riders, but a maximum of five, and some good ones on the climbs will not have good assistants here.”
Wiggins predicts a “whittling down process” in the early stages of the race and predicts few of the 130 starters will actually reach the finish at Fuji Speedway. “The time adjustment, coming here late from what was a very tough Tour de France, they will feel the effect of that this week looking at this course and the heat,” the Briton said. Reuters.