Froome test rides 2016 Rio Olympic course

Chris Froome has spent some time in Brazil, previewing the courses for the 2016 Olympic races, which should favor a climber like him.

Photo: TDW

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MILAN (VN) — Team Sky’s Chris Froome is passing part of his winter months preparing for the 2016 Olympic road race. He traveled to Rio de Janeiro and reconnoitered the circuit he will face August 6, two weeks after the Tour de France ends in Paris.

The Kenya-born Brit rode the road and time trial courses Thursday and Friday with local experts to understand what he will face in August 2016. On tap for the road race: 256.4 kilometers with around 4,000 meters of climbing.

Those who have seen the course, say it is perfect for grand tour cyclists like two-time Tour winner Froome. Colombian Nairo Quintana, Italian Vincenzo Nibali, and Spaniard Alberto Contador are also targeting a gold medal. “For sure, it’s a climbers’ race,” Rod Ellingworth, team Sky and Great Britain coach told VeloNews. “The GC riders or Ardennes classics riders — if you can climb with the best and have a quick finish — someone like Alejandro Valverde or Rigoberto Urán could do well. We will have Froome and Geraint [Thomas].”

Ellingworth travelled with Froome to see the course. He had already visited in August for the test event. Their group rode the course Thursday and Friday. One week before Froome, his future Sky teammate, Pole Michal Kwiatkowski visited as well.

Several others previewed the roads during the test race won by Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r La Mondiale). “It’s very beautiful,” Gougeard told L’Equipe after his win in August. “I’m glad to see a very demanding circuit. It’s been a few years since we had a course like this for the Games, with very hard climbs and difficult sections with cobblestones. We could also have side-wind early in the race on the flats.” He also climbed to win stage 8 of the Tour de France to Mûr-de-Bretagne.

The road course consists of two circuits. The first one, after 40 kilometers, the Grumari (named after the main climb), runs 24 kilometers and is repeated three times. It includes a rough two-kilometer pavé sector. The 1.2-kilometer Grumari climb reaches 13 percent and is followed by a second 2.2-kilometer climb. Kwiatkowski posted a photograph of the pavé on his Twitter account. If you ignore the beach in the background, it appears to come straight from the Paris-Roubaix cobbled classic.

Kwiatkowski should be pleased — like in Ponferrada, Spain, where he won the worlds title in 2014, the final includes fast and technical descent toward the finish line in Rio.

After the first Grumari circuit, the riders return along the coast east toward Rio and the second circuit, Vista Chinesa. It covers 25 kilometers and is repeated four times. The road climbs 8.5 kilometers to Vista Chinesa: the first four at 10 percent, a sharp 600-meter descent, 400 meters of flat, and then another 3.5km of climbing through the Tijuca National Park. The climbs in the course add up to around 4,000 meters of altitude gain (13,123 feet).

“It’s going to be a tough day out on the bike,” Ellingworth added. “Cobbles, climbs, and potential side-wind along the coast. The big difference is that we only have five-man teams.”

Froome previewed the 59.6-kilometer time trial course, slated for August 10, at the same time since it uses the same Grumari circuit.

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