The Men’s Olympic Road Race, a race traditionally won by the biggest jerk in the bunch, usually after one of the coolest riders in the bunch makes a mess of things when the race is all but in his hands. Take Fabian Cancellara last time ’round, casually looking behind him as he leaned into a right-hander which he then just as casually overshot, opening the door for Alexandre Vinokourov – dirtiest rider in the bunch – to buy off the race from Rigoberto Uran Uran.
In 1980 the Rooskies won because no one else showed up to the race, then in ’84 Alexi Grewal won, beating Steve Bauer to the line. I don’t think there has ever been a nicer guy in the peloton who came second place in more important races than Steve Bauer. The Olympics, Paris-Roubaix. He got tangled up in the sprint for the Worlds once, and got sued as a result. In 1989, he flatted out of the lead group at the Worlds, when the math said Sean Kelly should have been the fastest sprinter. But math isn’t always right and Greg LeMond bested Sean to the line; there is no reason to belief Bauer wouldn’t have been in that sprint finish, with every possibility of taking top honors.
But races aren’t won on theories, and coulda-woulda-shouldas. My money is on a climber with a good descent and a fast finish, like Alejandro Valvecap. Nibali could get away, but let’s face it – it would be too glorious if he won and glorious things don’t normally happen in the Men’s Olympic Road Race. Is Armstrong coming out of retirement (again) for the race? Maybe he’ll win.