No rain delays for gold chasing women cyclists
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Sunday, August 10, 2008

No rain delays for gold chasing women cyclists

by Agence France-Presse at 12:42 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
A hilly 23.8km loop which leads to the Great Wall finish line of the women's road race will provide plenty of Olympic cycling action for the second day running here Sunday.

But, to the annoyance of some of the 66-strong field scheduled to start the 126km race, there will be no rain delays.

The men's road race on Saturday, held over a punishing 245km including seven loops of the hilly 23.8km circuit, saw Samuel Sanchez defy the hot temperatures and 90 percent humidity to take the gold.

At almost half the distance, and with rain pouring over the entire course an hour before the 2pm local time (0600GMT) start, the likes of the Netherlands's Marianne Vos and Germany's Judith Arndt will be given an altogether different challenge.

Vos, for example, might relish the slippery conditions. As well as being a former world road race champion - and the reigning world champion in track cycling's points race - she is also a master of the hybrid discipline known as cyclo-cross.

Others, like 49-year-old French great Jeannie Longo - the 1996 Olympic champion now competing in a record-equalling seventh Games - might rather watch the race at home.

Far more comfortable in dry and hot conditions, Longo has a well-known dislike for the rain. The weeks she spent training at high altitude in sunny Colorado might all be for nothing.

Oenone Wood leads Australia's gold medal bid, and will have the support of reigning champion Sara Carrigan, who beat Arndt to the title in Athens four years ago.

However all of the above will be keeping a close eye on one of road cycling's most dangerous competitors - Welshwoman Nicole Cooke. Despite a sterling career which has seen her win Commonwealth titles, world junior titles and other major races, the Briton is still searching for an elusive first Olympic, and senior world, title.

Among the other contenders are Italy's Vera Carrara, Kristin Armstrong of the United States, and former world champion Susanne Ljungskog. Weather permitting, the race is scheduled to finish at 5.30pm local time (0930GMT).

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