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Olympic men’s road race internal conflict

Posted on | August 11, 2008 |

I’m just going to throw this out there: I’m fighting feelings of disappointment in the Olympic men’s road race. I’ve thought about this all day, had an email back and forth with a friend about it, ranted to a coworker, and continued to mull over it while I did some weights at the gym. What’s bothering me you may ask?

53 DNFs.

Contador, Freire, Hunter, O’Grady, Voigt, Zabriskie, Efimkin, Schumacher, Ciolek…what the hell?

Before you jump to the comments and tell me how stupid I am, here’s a few things I “get”:

  1. I get that this race was quite possibly the race from hell — long, hot, tough, smoggy, and lacking spectators.
  2. I get that some of the guys sacrificed themselves for other team members.
  3. I get that some guys are thinking about the ITT.
  4. I get that the race is only two weeks after the end of the Tour, which follows a long, hard season including Paris-Roubaix, the Giro, and spring classics.
  5. I get that most of these guys probably still have a couple major events left on their ‘08 schedule.
  6. I get that the race is not the biggest world stage for cycling like it is for so many other sports. Most likely an elite cyclist grew up dreaming of winning the Tour de France while the elite swimmer grew up dreaming of gold at the Olympics.
  7. I get that it doesn’t pay the bills.

Here’s the thing: I don’t care. IT’S THE OLYMPICS. At least finish it, you know? That’s all I’m asking. And how many guys from domestic teams back home would have loved to be there?

And now for some positives:

  • Fabian Cancellara. Duh. This guy is bad@$$. He didn’t “save” himself, he frickin’ went for it. And I’ll have a hard time not cheering for him (at least a little) in the ITT.
  • I’m throwing out some props to Ryder Hesjedal. He did a lot of pace setting in a break group and still finished.
  • Props to Julian Dean. He’s a sprinter for Garmin-Chipotle, but he found his climbing legs and hung in there for 54th. Nice representation for New Zealand.
  • And, yes, I do appreciate Leipheimer’s and Vande Velde’s strong riding. Thanks Levi, Christian, and George.
  • The women’s race. Slogging through rain all day and only 4 DNFs. And it was fun to see the pure joy of Nicole Cooke when she won.

So am I irrationally annoyed with this race? Please do attempt to make feel better about it.

Update: Okay, I think I’ve officially worked through this internally. Official ruling?: Irrational annoyance. Carry on.

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