Olympic road race preview
A closer look at the men's road race
Last Updated: July 27, 2012 12:19pm
Team GB scout the Oympics race route
The Olympic Games road race looks set to be one of the most exciting and unpredictable events in the entire Games.
The first gold medal on offer will be hotly contested, with Great Britain heading into the race as favourites riding a wave of momentum following the Tour de France.
The 250-kilometre course, which starts and finishes on the Mall before heading out of London to take in Surrey and the surrounding area, has the prospect of ending in a bunch kick, but the reality could be anything but.
Nine times over a testing Box Hill circuit will take its toll on the peloton, with the climb having a cumulative effect and providing a springboard for attacks. Not every rider will be as keen as world champion Mark Cavendish for the race to end in a sprint.
Team tactics, alliances and luck will play a huge factor in how the race pans out on the road. We take a look at the main contenders and their chances for victory.
Flying the flag
Reigning world champion Cavendish arrives off the back of a Tour de France which saw him take three stage wins, elevating his career total up to 23. The Manxman didn't get as many chances to sprint but proved he is still the fastest man in the world, cementing his status as favourite.
A mere six days after winning the Tour on the Champs-Elysees Bradley Wiggins will devote himself to Cavendish during the road race. An instrumental part of the world championship winning squad in Copenhagen, Wiggins will look to carry his form on to British roads before also taking on the time trial event.
After coming second to Wiggins at the Tour, Chris Froome is another rider in the form of his life. The Kenyan-born Brit excels on the climbs and will look to push the pace in support of Cavendish when required, as well as occupying the second time trial place.
The one non-Team Sky member, David Millar turned himself inside out in Copenhagen for Cavendish and will look to do the same again. Riding on the road for the Garmin-Sharp team, Millar took an emotional stage victory at the Tour, a race which saw four of the five members taste victory.
The only rider in the squad not to ride at the Tour, Ian Stannard instead claimed the British national road title the week before the race in a powerful display. Renowned as one of the strongest and most loyal riders in the peloton, Stannard will have a part to play in chasing down breaks.
Andre Greipel, the German sprinter known as the 'gorilla' has been in stunning form this season, taking 16 victories including three stage wins at the Tour de France. Another man currently sitting on 16 wins, Peter Sagan was a revelation at the Tour, the 22-year-old romped to the green jersey and three stage victories in his first attempt at the biggest race in cycling. Riding a wave of momentum, the Slovakian has no team-mates but may not need any.
A Team Sky team-mate and lead-out man of Cavendish, Edvald Boasson Hagen has shown he can climb and sprint with the very best and is well-placed to spoil the party for the Brits. The Norwegian is a danger from a bunch sprint or a break come the finish, as is Matthew Goss. The Australian endured a frustrating Tour with a handful of second places in bunch sprints. His ability to get over the climbs and finish fast mean you can never count the Orica-GreenEDGE rider out.
Defending champion from Beijing Samuel Sanchez is unable to take the start following a broken collarbone for the Spaniard at the Tour de France. Other riders to watch out for are Tyler Farrar (USA), Francisco Ventoso (Spain), Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert (Belgium), Sylvain Chavanel (France), Luca Paolini (Italy) and Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland).