By Paul Verkuylen
Iran could be a surprise package at the Olympic Games road race in Beijing, China after a strong showing at the recent Tour of Qinghai Lake. The Tabriz Petrochemical Team was easily the strongest team in the mountains, taking the first three places in the mountains classification.
The Olympic road race course is one of the hilliest ever seen at an Olympic Games and with the confidence gained in Qinghai, Iran shouldn't be allowed too much room to move. Iran has qualified three accomplished climbers for the race Ghader Mizbani Iranagh, Hossein Askari and Mehdi Sohrabi.
Rohani Ahad Poorfarajolah, general manager of the Tabriz Petrochemical Team, is playing down the chances of a strong result for the squad. "Tours are completely different than road races," he said. "There is more competition and tighter competition. It is difficult to predict if our riders will achieve a good result. But we will try."
Askari is likely to lead the squad after finishing third in Qinghai and taking out the best Asian rider classification. "We will ride to take the best result for an Asian rider in Beijing," he said. "The course has a bit of a mountain, so I think that we will be able to ride in a good position."
It will be the first time that all three riders compete in the Olympic Games.