Road race preview - 3 August
03 August 2002
The final day of cycling competition moves the teams back to Rivington for the men’s and women’s road races today.
Both races will be contested on the same 11.7km course used for last Saturday’s Road Time Trial. The women will complete eight laps while the men will complete a more arduous 16 laps.
Australia’s men took a clean sweep of the medals in the road time trial on Saturday, 27 July, and the strength of their squad suggests their rivals will have a tough job preventing a repeat performance on Saturday.
All three Time Trial medallists – Cadel Evans (gold), Michael Rogers (silver) and Nathan O’Neill (bronze) – will be looking to add to their medal haul. Rogers won two Commonwealth golds at Kuala Lumpur in 1998 and will be pushing for a fourth. He will have to contend with team-mates Stuart O’Grady, who has just completed the Tour de France, and Luke Roberts, who was part of Australia’s world record-breaking gold medal-winning team pursuit foursome.
Of the remaining riders in the 87-man field, the most likely challengers for a place on the podium are Eric Wohlberg (CAN), who came fourth in the road time trial, and Huw Pritchard (WAL), silver medal winner in the 20km scratch race.
The home nation will be looking to the experienced Max Sciandri (ENG) for leadership during the 188km race.
The women’s event looks likely to be a more open contest. Caroline Alexander (SCO) came to the Commonwealth Games with her sights set on two gold medals but, when leading the Mountain Bike race on Sunday, 28 July, her tyre split and she was forced to retire. Alexander will be seeking retribution in the 93.5km road race.
Her main rivals will come from Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The Australian challenge will be led by Rochelle Gilmore (AUS), who took silver on the track in the Points Race, and Anna Millward (AUS), second in the road time trial.
Clara Hughes (CAN), already a gold medallist in the time trial and bronze medallist in the points race, will be looking to make the Games podium for a third time. She will be able to rely on the support of team-mate Lyne Bessette (CAN), who took bronze in the time trial.
Aside from hosts England, New Zealand are the only nation with six riders in the women’s road race. Sarah Ulmer (NZL) has already set a new Games record in the Individual Pursuit and her natural speed will stand her in good stead if Saturday’s race comes down to a final sprint.
Info News Service/jl/pjt