Roadies count down as trackies arrive

Tales from the peloton, August 8, 2008

The wait is nearly over, with less than 10 hours remaining before Beijing, China throws open its doors to the hundreds of millions expected to watch this evening's opening ceremony. While many will be preparing for a big celebration this evening, one bunch of athletes - the men's Olympic road race competitors - will be having an early night.

Athletes have spent the final day before tonight's celebrations getting into the training rhythm after touching down in China this week. An increased group of riders have been scoping the men's road race course, with the medals to be decided in just over 24 hours time. The women's road racers have an extra day up their sleeves before the race on Sunday, while the time trialists have until mid-next week to finish their preparations.

One day after making a controversial arrival wearing breathing masks, the United States of America track team put the media attention behind it and hit the Laoshan Velodrome. Joined by Great Britain, France, Ukraine, Netherlands and China, it was one of the first major training sessions held at the velodrome, with the track events not starting until next weekend.

The countdown to 8/8/2008 has been anything but squeaky clean. Protesters have already taken into custody, while cameramen have been focused on the sky above looking for the slightest improvement, or deterioration, in the smog situation. While a typhoon has been dampening spirits at Olympic venues in Hong Kong, Beijing has been given the World Health Organisation's air quality thumbs up.

So, let the Games begin.

Roadies count down as trackies arrive, August 8, 2008

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