The Olympic Games road race may be eight months away but Great Britain’s elite road coach Rod Ellingworth, is already pondering the team's selection, with Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and a long list of riders all in contention for places.
Great Britain are one of just a handful of nations to have the maximum number of five spots for the men’s road race, while they have just one spot for the time trial, after missing out on a second place due to a disappointing showing at the World Championships in September. Froome, Thomas and national champion Alex Dowsett are all potential candidates for the time trial.
At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Great Britain’s men scored gold and bronze in the time trial, courtesy of Bradley Wiggins and Froome, although they missed out on a medal in the road race.
The 2016 Rio road race and time courses are completely different to those raced in London, with much more climbing included. It means that the team's selection will be geared towards mountain specialists, while one of the five road riders will be handed the time trial spot.
Chris Froome recently accompanied Ellingworth to Rio and rode reconnaissance over the courses for the time trial and road race, and although the Tour de France winner is the favourite for the time trial spot, Ellingworth admitted that no decisions over selection had been guaranteed this far out from the Games.
“Were still working that one out. The course obviously leans towards riders like the Yates brothers, Froome, and Geraint Thomas, in terms of pure climbers. Then you weigh up how many workers you’re going to take," Ellingworth explained to Cyclingnews.
"We just have to wait and see. There’s a long list already that will be refined. We’ll make selection on the final day possible, which I think is during the Tour. We’ll have a well-balanced team and the lads know where they stand.”
Froome will centre his season around the Tour de France and Olympics but his one day pedigree is far less impressive than his Grand Tour palmares. Despite this, Ellingwoth does not envisage the double Tour de France winner racking up one-day races in 2016 in order to refine his skills.
“For Chris, one day racing is still a challenge and you see that Adam Yates and Geraint have both won major one day races but Chris can beat the best of them when it’s hard enough and he’s in good shape. The time trial is a bit more of a given but we’ve only got one spot and it will be hard to make that selection right now.”
“This race will purely come down to physical conditioning so there’s a chance a few riders could come back together after the final climb with there being quite a technical descent.”
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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