Cyclingnews diarist Glen Chadwick wraps up his take on the Olympic experience this week. Today, he recalls the big day - race day! In tomorrow's diary, Chadwick takes in some sights and then hits the road back to the USA. For all of Chadwick's Olympic diaries go here.
It is time for CRAC and the super squad
Well the day was finally upon us. Went to bed early the night before to get a good sleep, but woke up at 4:30 and rolled around till it was time to get up at 7:30. I guess my mind started to wander and think about the race and other things. From that point on I was gonna be hurting trying to sleep well again. But once I was up, got a good breakfast and a good coffee I was ready to get into it.
It was as clearer day as we were ever gonna get in China and I think and the temp didn't seem so bad either. All the teams piled into a heap of buses and were all taxied over to the start in downtown Beijing, which was a stones throw from Tiananmen Square. When we arrived at the start it was a pretty quiet atmosphere. I don't think it was an easy venue to cruise to and have a look?
Even the sign-on was just at a little table down the end of the starting straight. (The kind of sign-on you'd see at an NRC event) The three of us had cooling vests on before the start; the idea of these is to keep your core temperature down. They work really well. They kept the engine nice and cool for a little while. All the countries were called up one by one in front of the spectators lucky enough to get tickets to start. These were all basically locals or CRAC (Chinese Rent A Crowd). For a lot of events the ticket prices were so low (e.g. BMX at $11) the locals just scooped them all up before anyone else had a chance.
Normally, the road race is one of the only Olympic events that you can watch for free, well that was the case in the first 80 kilometres while we raced out to the circuit. However, once we were out there you couldn't get onto the circuit as they had it completely closed off to everyone. There were two massive grandstands on either side of the finish straight, which were loaded with CRAC.
So the first 80 kilometres were pretty cruisey, but once we hit the circuits... Man, oh man! The problem was that there was a significant break that formed about 20 kilometres to the circuit and the bigger squads USA and Russia missed the move, so the chase was on. To give you a rough idea of the circuit I'll basically say it was a 12-kilometre climb – tailwind – which isn't good. Then followed by a 12-kilometre decent, which was a head wind and you had to pedal down. Every lap was a fast one.