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All Eyes turn to Rio, and BMC Athletes for Gold!

25. July 2016 — TeamSpirit
TeamSpirit

For many athletes, participation in the World's biggest sporting event is the absolute highest pinnacle of sporting achievement. Very few athletes can call themselves ‘an Olympian’, and a shot at acquiring this coveted label comes around only once every four years. We have been supporting our team athletes in reaching this goal for a number of years by supplying them with most technicologically advanced bikes we can create. Find out which BMC atheltes have qualified for Rio and join us in supporting them in their quest for gold.

When: Sunday 21st of August at 5.30pm to 7:15pm CEST

Where: Mountain Bike Centre

Who: Julien Absalon (FRA), Lars Forster (SUI)

Ranked the No.1 team in the world in the discipline of cross country mountain bike racing - the BMC Mountain Bike Racing Team will supply two very talented riders for the fight to set foot on the podium at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Although their level of experience and goals vary, both Julien Absalon and Lars Forster have very clear goals.

Rio is what kept me focused and working hard over the last few years

The most successful cross-country rider of all time, Julien Absalon, is the rider to watch. Absalon is a serious challenger for the gold medal – he has already won Olympic gold twice (Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008) and he is putting everything into a third. “This idea is what has kept me focused and working hard over the last few years. I am 36 and it doesn’t get any easier! I started mountain biking as a pro 18 years ago, I’ve had to adapt to a lot of changes in race lengths, course design, material, and so on. This hasn’t been the case of the younger riders who have always known what ‘modern’ cross-country is.” The Frenchman worked hard this winter for what will probably be the last big objective of his incredible career. His training has been planned to perfection to help him achieve his two major goals. This meant peaking in May for the World Cup in his home town of La Bresse and again in August for Rio. Absalon won the World Cup in La Bresse, so if he can repeat this formula, he’ll be challenging not just for a podium spot, but for a gold medal in Brazil. “I think Nino Schurter and Jaroslav Kulhavy are the other two main medal contenders; my fellow countryman Maxime Marotte has also been very consistent this season, so we’ll have to count him in the mix of potential medal winners too.” Competition will be fierce. “The most important thing for me is that I give myself the best possibility to perform. I had a slow puncture in London and had to withdraw from the race. It is still the most frustrating incident of my entire career and I don’t want that to happen again.”

Julien Absalon and Lars Forster

I didn’t think about it at all at the beginning of the season

The rookie Swiss rider Lars Forster is in a completely different situation to Julien Absalon. In his first season as an elite rider, he managed to quality for Rio out of the strongest nation in the world in cross-country mountain biking. After finishing 6th and 5th in his first two Elite World Cups, the young rider welcomed the news of his selection with fierce emotion “I can’t believe it!” were his first words when he got the news. “I didn’t think about it at all at the beginning of the season!” 2016 will be Forster’s first experience at this level. “I took part to the Youth Olympic Games in 2009 in Finland but I don’t think it is comparable; everything will be bigger, busier and more impressive this time.” Forster might be young but he doesn’t lack confidence and ambition. “I don’t really know what to expect in terms of results but I’ll do everything to have a good result there. And it will be a great experience for me as a rider especially with my long-term goal to win in Tokyo in 2020.”

The mountain bike course in Rio
 is very specific and nothing like what the MTB riders are used to. Entirely artificial, it has been built on an open hill to provide the best visibility for spectators and TV cameras. Absalon rode the course last October during the test event: “I prefer natural courses than these new types of tracks with artificial features linked together by trails with very smooth and hard ground. But the obstacles are nice and the long climb suits me well.” Lars Forster only knows the course through videos, pictures and what riders that attended the test event have told him about it. So he’ll travel with two bikes: his BMC Teamelite and the full-suspension BMC Fourstroke and will decide after the first official training session which bike he’d prefer to use.

When: Saturday 6th of August at 2:30pm to 9pm CEST

Where: Fort Copacabana

Who: Brent Bookwalter (USA), Damiano Caruso (ITA), Rohan Dennis (AUS), Alessandro DeMarchi (ITA), Richie Porte (AUS), Taylor Phinney (USA), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Philippe Gilbert (BEL)

The men’s road race at the Games in Rio de Janeiro is a pretty unique one in the sport of road cycling. Professional cyclists are used to racing for their trade teams all season. They usually have eight to nine riders on their team and a fully worked-out strategy. In this race however, teams are small, with only one to five riders on each national team. This makes it particularly interesting to watch – riders often have to fend for themselves making the racing more dynamic and full of action.

You only get the chance once every four years, to aim for that podium, so it’s definitely motivating The race course in Rio is probably the toughest in history; it is 256.4 kilometres long and the second half of the race is notably challenging with a significant 8.9 kilometre long  climb (the steepest sector has a gradient of 11.9%) and a relatively demanding descent lasting six kilometres. The finish line appears on the third lap at the end of a flat, 20 kilometres long section. The golden reward will be collected at the famous Copacabana. 

Eight riders from the BMC Racing Team will represent their respective countries at the road race in Rio. The Tour de France is a definite pre-selector for the race and Greg Van Avermaet’s performance made his selection an easy decision for the Belgian cycling federation. Another rider with high performance potential is Richie Porte. Porte just finished the Tour de France in 5th place. The second half of the course suits him as a rider. “Anything is possible at the Olympic Games. You only get the chance once every four years, to aim for that podium, so it’s definitely motivating. The course is fairly suited to me because of the difficult climb, so I’d like to think that I have a good shot at a medal. But it’s a long and difficult one-day race so anything can happen out there” said Porte. Let’s see how he defends himself against the one-day specialists.

Greg Van Avermaet, Damiano Caruso, Brent Bookwalter, Alessandro DeMarchi and Philippe Gilbert

Apart from Greg Van Avermaet and Richie Porte, also Rohan Dennis, Damiano Caruso, Alessandro DeMarchi, Taylor Phinney, Philippe Gilbert and Brent Bookwalter have been selected by their national federations.

When: Wednesday 10th of August at 3pm - 6pm CEST

Where: Pontal

Who: Rohan Dennis (AUS), Taylor Phinney (USA),Richie Porte (AUS) and Brent Bookwalter (USA)

The time trial event at the Games in Rio will take place four days after the road race, on the 10th of August. The course uses the Grumari Circuit of the road race that includes the 1.2km climb up Grumari Road starting and finishing in Tim Maia Square. The riders will complete two laps of the circuit, making it a tough day out in the Rio sunshine for the time triallists over an exceptionally long, 59.6km course.

BMC athletes have shown impressive results over the last few years in time trialling, and it is not a big surprise that a few of the main contenders for medals are racing on Timemachine time-trial bikes. All eyes will be on Rohan Dennis as a clear favourite for the Time-Trial race. The former World Hour Record holder and winner of the fastest Tour de France time trial of all time, is seen as one of the main contenders to take gold. “Last year at the Tour de France I did the fastest ever time trial in the history the race, this gives me a lot of confidence. I have the best equipment out there with the Timemachine, and on the physical side - it is all done now. It is really only all about the very specific pre-race preparation now after the Tour de France.” said Dennis.

Rohan Dennis, Tyler Phinney and Richie Porte

Another BMC Racing Team athlete who built his whole season around this race is Taylor Phinney. The former runner-up of the 2012 TT World Championships seems to have finally recovered from his career-threatening crash in 2014. “The course doesn’t suit me perfectly on paper but the Olympic Games always give me extra motivation. I have been preparing specifically for the kind of efforts I will be making in Rio. My goal at the Olympics is to win a medal in the Time Trial” said Phinney. The long distance and lumpy profile makes Richie Porte a dark horse for the podium. Let’s see if the former Australian Time Trial champion with a few WorldTour time trials to his name recovers in time from his efforts at the Tour de France.

When:

Team Pursuit on Friday 12th of August at 10:00 to 11:30pm CEST

Men’s Omnium on Suday 14th and Monday 15th of August

Where: Rio Olympic Velodrome

Who: Frank Pasche (SUI), Théry Schir (SUI), Cyrille Thièry (SUI), Olivier Beer (SUI), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Gäel Suter (SUI), Roger Kluge (GER) 

The loss of Stefan Küng was a big blow to our ambitions, but we still believe in our chances

The Swiss National pursuit team were targeting a realistic bronze medal at the Games in Rio, but then they got a big blow to their ambitions when arguably their strongest rider, BMC Racing Team rider Stefan Küng, crashed heavily at the Swiss National Time Trial Championships at the end of June and broke his tibia – discounting him from the race in Brazil. Stefan Küng is the 2015 World and European Champion in the individual pursuit on the track and without him, it will be more difficult for the Swiss team to take a medal, but who knows? Portugal managed to win the final of the UEFA Euro without their star player Ronaldo, sometimes riders are able to lift their game if they are forced to do so. BMC Racing Team rider Silvan Dillier said: “The loss of Stefan Küng was a big blow to our ambitions, but we still believe in our chances”. The team who wants to make this happen, consists of Frank Pasche, Théry Schir, Cyrille Thièry, Olivier Beer and Silvan Dillier.

Silvan Dillier, Thiéry Schir, Olivier Beer, Frank Pasche and Cyrille Thièry (left to right)

Apart from the Swiss national pursuit team, Gäel Suter and Roger Kluge will compete on Trackmachine TR01’s in the Omnium at the Games. Roger Kluge is one of the main favourites. With his silver medal from Beijing 2008 and his second place at the World Champs in London this past March, he has proven that he has the potential to reach for the highest step on the podium in Rio. Gäel Suter on the other hand is more of a dark horse, this could however be in his favour as he won’t be marked by other riders.

Gaël Suter and Roger Kluge

When:

Men's Triathlon on Thursday 18th of August at 4pm CEST

Women's Triathlon on Thursday 20th of August at 4pm CEST

Where: Fort Copacabana

Who: Erin Densham (AUS), Andrea Salvisberg (SUI) 

In contrast with road cycling where other races on the calendar such as the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia take higher importance than the Games – the race in Rio is by far the most important race of the season for ITU triathletes. Here they can step out of the shade of their big brother ‘Ironman’ and use the big stage to showcase the dynamic energy of their sport. Two triathletes have been confirmed to compete on BMC bikes in Rio; Erin Densham and Andrea Salvisberg. Erin Densham took bronze at the 2012 Games in London and it will be the third time she competes in this hotly-contested event. Despite recent injuries, she believes that by the time she hits the water in Rio, she will be fit and ready to fight for a medal again. “The work I have done and the improvement I have made in the last two-and-a-half weeks has been very reassuring and I have begun to feel what it’s like to run like myself again” said Densham. For Salvisberg it will be his first appearance at the Games and the newly crowned European bronze medallist is aiming for a top ten result. “It is a dream come true to compete for my country at the Games” said Salvisberg.

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