Olympic Games, Beijing, 2008
Road Race 126.4km
the reigning British Champion, won the most incredible race of her life to
secure the Gold medal.
women's road race started with 66 riders including 22 of the participants
from Athens, in particular, the top 2 from Greece; Sara Carrigan (Australia)
and Judith Arndt (Germany). It was always going to be a tough race with a
number of riders in contention for the gold.
The race started
in extreme conditions - 24 degrees and 97% humidity. The precipitation made
the mist very thick. Thankfully early rain dried up as the riders departed
the North Square of Yongdingmen in Beijing's Chongwen District, before it
moved its way north to finish at Juyong Pass, high up along the Great Wall
of China. As the race rolled out it was reported that the rain had started
at the foot of the climb.
It was a tough,
aggressive and very tactical race with the more competitive countries
represented by a maximum three riders having a distinct advantage over the
countries that only secured one place in the race.
The run out to
the 23.8km circuit, which the riders lapped twice when they reached it, was
led by Kate Bates (Australia) and Vera Carrara (Italy). The pace was
relatively steady and a good tempo. After the first 4 km there had been
little change at the front except for the entry and depart of Jeannie Longo
Ciprelli who moved in her traditional
style from the back to the front of the field. At the back, she joined some
of the race favourites, Arndt, Kristin Armstrong (USA) and Marianne Vos
The 78km route
out to the circuit on the Great Wall comprised city streets and then a
section on the relatively flat open freeway. The route passed a number of
China’s greatest monuments both old and new,
and included going around the outskirts of a number of the temples of
the Forbidden Palace, it also included going across Tian’anmen Square and
past the Great Hall of the People-Tian'anmen, the Lama Temple and the south
gate of Temple of Earth. The race then passed the Olympic stadium and
gymnasium before heading north and out towards the Badaling section of the
great Wall. As the race passed
the Olympic stadium Carrara pointed it out to the rest of her team.
remaining Longo moved to the front as the road raised slightly.
The rain started to fall lightly but not so much that it was
affecting the race. The
Italians were very prominent on the front of the race and made sure that
they covered any move. Carrara tried to attack but it was covered by the
Austrian Monika Schachl.
With 82km to go
the Russian Yulia Martisova attacked from mid field but she was immediately
covered by Carrara and Schachl. Oenone Wood (Australia) suffered a minor
mechanical when her chain came off but she managed to get it back on herself
and rejoined the peloton. Soon afterwards, Chantal Beltman (Netherlands) moved to the
front briefly before the rain became heavier and Longo moved to the front
again, presumably to keep out of trouble.
The rain came
down really heavily at this point and a number of the top riders moved
forwards in the bunch. The peloton was 20km away from the start of the
circuit with 72km to go and 1 hour 33 of racing completed.
Hanka Kupfernagel (Germany) attacked but Kristin Armstrong covered
the move, immediately Martisova attacked again and this time Carrara closed
the gap. With 58km to go the Russian Alexandra Burchenkova one of the
youngest riders in the race at 19, attacked. She quickly gained a 50m gap
before Christine Thorburn (USA) moved to the front to close the gap.
There was a
touch of wheels by the Korean rider Heejung Son which took a number of
riders down, including Stephanie Hohl (Switzerland), Grete Treier (Estonia),
Catherine Cheatley (New Zealand), Okasana Kaschyshyna (Ukraine) and Sarah
Trixi Worrack (Germany) moved to front and they were joined by Thorburn and
Armstrong (USA) and the British team of Emma Pooley, Sharon Laws and Nicole
With 47km to go
Russian rider Natallia Boyarskaya attacked and quickly gained 100m and a 45
second gap. On the climb the Russian stretched out her head to 1 minute 14
seconds. In the chasing peloton, Ljungskog and Trixi Worrack and Arndt
(Germany) moved to the front to try to close the gap. Amber Neben (USA) and
Pooley moved to help the chase and Pooley attacked the group and managed to
gain a gap. The Austrian, Schachl moved to close the gap to Pooley and bring
the rest of the remaining peloton with her.
With 38km to go,
at the Badaling section of the Great Wall, the gap to the leader was 1
minute 4 seconds and Beltman (Netherlands) moved to the front to close the
gap. She was supported by the Ukrainian Kaschyshyna and they managed to
bring the gap down to 59 seconds. The gap gradually came down with the work
of the American Thorburn, Jolanta Polikevicute (Lithuanian) and Vos managed
to close the gap to 52 seconds.
On the approach
to the start/finish area the rain was really heavy and the road conditions
poor. This caused a number of minor crashes and great caution in the bunch.
Alex Wrubleski (Canada) who was one of the more favoured riders and she
crashed and had to fight back but it was too hard as the pace on the front
of the race had exploded.
(GBR) had attacked the front of the Peloton in pursuit of the lone escapee
and managed to gain a 35 second on the peloton. The Italian Guderzo bridged
the gap to Pooley and the pair worked well together to close the gap to the
With 20km to go,
the work done by Arndt on the front of the peloton ensured that the peloton
were together. Neben experienced problems with her chain that ended her
(Kazakhstan) attacked the bunch and again it was Arndt who closed the gap.
With 15km to go
Zabirova attacked again, Longo, Arndt, Naomi Cantele (Italy) and Cooke
closed the gap again.
At 9km to go the
Italians counter attacked again, this time it was Guderzo who attacked. She
quickly gained a 200m, 7 second gap. The only riders to react in the bunch
were Christiane Soeder (Austria), Cooke, Linda Villumsen (Denmark) and Emma
Johansson (Sweden). The five leaders worked well together, a concentrated
chase by the bunch meant that it looked like they might get caught but they
cooperated worked together to stay away. They held a 15 second gap right to
the 600m to go point. Cooke looked like she misjudged a corner, or slipped
her chain and had to work hard to get back to the group. She held the rear
wheel of Villumsen until the 200m to go mark and attacked. She powered
forwards, crossing the line just ahead of Johansson and Guderzo. As she
crossed the line, Cooke shouted “yes, yes, yes” and banged her
handlebars in delight.
Results - Top 10 - click here to see full result
1 Nicole Cooke (Great Britain)
2 Emma Johansson (Sweden)
3 Tatiana Guderzo (Italy)
4 Christiane Soeder (Austria)
5 Linda Melanie Villumsen (Denmark)
Photos Click on any image to enlarge >>
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