A quick look at the 2012 Olympic mountain bike course. The video features every turn, climb and rock chute of the constructed course at ‘The Farm’ where both the Men’s and Women’s race will take place.
The circuit is just under 5km long features a few steep climbs but wide, manicured crushed gravel for much of the opening minutes of the race. The added rock gardens serve as choke points. Some riders have liked it to the Classics on the road-it’s a race to the tight spots with lots of wide areas leading into it. It’ll be a fierce fight to gain and hold position on the first two laps.
For the women, this course would seem almost perfect for Catherine Pendrel or perhaps even Julie Bresset. The lack of massive, sustained climbs means the fast, rocky sections are the most decisive aspects of the course. Unfortunately for the Emily Batty Fan Club (of which kolo t.c. is chief sponsor and President), the technical, rough sections work against smaller riders. Batty will need to put in huge efforts to gain position on the climbs and may benefit from Great Britain’s Annie Last style of racing. Last is famous for charging ahead early on, forcing others to chase hard early but at the expense of over-exerting. With Last riding in her home Olympics on the heels of a 2nd place in the final World Cup of the year, you can almost bet on her taking charge in the opening sections of the race.
The men’s race is wide open, but two names come to mind after watching the course. Nino Schurter is the best technical and rock-rider, period. He’ll be tough to beat, but Julien Absalon has proved himself capable of sticking with the Swiss powerhouse on similar courses at Houffalize earlier in the year. Jaroslav Kulhavy, Marco Fontana and Jose Hermida should also do well, with the enigmatic Kulhavy riding as world champion and with curious form heading into the biggest race of the year.
The Women’s race takes place August 11 at 12.30 EST. The Men wait to start until Sunday, August 12 at 1.30 EST.