Source: Xinhua

08-08-2008 07:39

Special Report:   2008 Beijing Olympic Games

BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- With mountain climbing specialist Alejandro Valverde and Toure de France winner Carlos Sastre, Team Spain has the reason to believe they could win Olympic road cycling medals in Beijing.

Spain's formidable Olympic line-up also includes Tour de France green jersey Oscar Freire, this year's Tour de Italy champion Alberto Contador and Samuel Sanchez.

"I believe that we are one of the most dangerous teams. Everybody knows what Alberto already won this year and what he is able to do in every kind of race. Carlos just won the Tour, and Oscar and Samuel also achieved a great Tour. I believe that the five of us can challenge for a medal," Valverde said.

Being regarded as one of the most challenging and beautiful courses of the Olympic Games, the 248.5-kilometer Beijing route is expected to suit Valverde's characteristics, with seven hilly finishing circuits coming after a flat opening 78 kilometers.

"I believe that after the Tour de France, I will have the necessary resistance for such a difficult race," added Valverde, who just won the San Sebastion Classic cycling race last week.

For Spanish cyclists, their biggest challenge may come from Olympic defending champion Paolo Bettini of Italy, while Squads like Australia, Russia and the United States of America will likely be animated in the race.

Germany and Belgium are also fielding strong rosters, and with two Tour de France yellow jersey wearers and this year's white jersey Andy Schleck making its entire line-up, one could expect Luxembourg to put in a good showing too.

For the women's edition, Nicole Cooke of Great Britain stands a good chance to win, and she will face strong opponents in Holland's Marianne Vos, Italy's Noemi Cantele, Australia's defending Olympic champion Sarah Carrigan and German Judith Arndt, who has been in spectacular form during the past several months.

Swiss world champion Fabian Cancellara and his compatriot Karin Thurig both would be the favorite gold contender in men's and women's time trial respectively.

Even Cancellara didn't win last month's Tour de France time trial, he proved a valuable engine in the overall winner's line-up.

Having overcome Cancellara twice at the Tour, Stefan Schumacher is hard to discount as a gold medal contender. As the highest placed rider from Athens to contest this year's Games, Michael Rogers of Australia will also pose some challenge for the Swissman.

After taking bronze in Athens four years ago, Thurig got the chance to prove herself in Beijing after wining the individual time trial at the recent Thuringen-Rundfahrt race in Germany.

Her teammate world champion Hanka Kupfernagel, Kristin Armstrong of United States of America and Christiane Soeder of Austria, will all pose some threats to Thurig on the hilly course.

The Olympic men's cycling road race will be held on Aug. 9, one day after the opening ceremony, followed by the women's race on the Aug. 10. The time trial race will take place on Aug. 13.


Editor:Yang Lina