Tokyo 2020: Men’s Olympic cycling road race UK start time and TV channel information

Tokyo 2020: Men’s Olympic cycling road race UK start time and TV channel information
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The Olympic men’s road race favourite is Tadej Pogacar but Bradley Wiggins believes the Slovenian will be a “marked man” as he attempts to claim gold to pair with his Tour de France title.

Pogacar defended his title last Sunday in relatively comfortable fashion and will be expected to secure glory in Tokyo too.

Wiggins, who won the 2012 Tour de France and the time trial at the London Olympics a couple of weeks later, believes it might be a tough ask of the 22-year-old Slovenian in the heat and humidity, and with such a quick turnaround.

“Naturally he will be a bit tired coming off the Tour and regardless of form, it’s always difficult, just the emotional side of winning the Tour de France and trying to back up,” Wiggins, an expert for Olympic broadcaster Discovery, told Reuters by Zoom on Friday. “He was on my flight out on Monday and he looked pretty fresh to be honest, but it’s always difficult and there are the likes of Wout van Aert who finished the Tour superstrong, so he will have some tough challengers.

“But if anyone can do it, it’s Pogacar because he’s a phenomenon of the sport, but he’s going to be a marked man, that’s for sure..

Pogacar trained on the course on Thursday and described the humidity as “awful” and the final 6.5-km Mikuni Pass climb at 11% average gradient as “brutal” but his team manager believes he will be ready to go full out on the 234-km course that is being described as the toughest in Olympic history.

Primoz Roglic, a two-time Vuelta de Espana champion, is both Pogacar‘s team mate and medal rival, although he is probably eyeing the time trial on Wednesday. Here’s everything you need to know about the race:

What TV channel is the race on and is there a live stream?

Action from the men’s road race is due to be live on BBC1 and can be streamed live on the BBC iPlayer on Saturday morning, while Eurosport will cover the race in its entirety on Eurosport 1, with a live stream on the Eurosport Player and via discovery+.

What does the course look like?

A brutal course has been prepared with many of the world’s best cyclists likely to be in contention for medals, though with just six days having passed since the end of the 2021 Tour de France, there may be some tired legs in the peloton.

Nations are awarded spots based on their strength, with prominent cycling nations France, Italy, Belgium, Colombia, Spain and the Netherlands entering a full complement of five riders.

Great Britain will have four riders in the race, led by Geraint Thomas, who will be looking to add to the two gold medals he won on the track in the team pursuit at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

What time does it start?

The riders are due to begin their neutral roll-out from Musashinomori Park at 3am BST on Saturday morning, with the proper race action scheduled to start 3.20am.

How can I watch it?

The course is a 234-kilometre weave around Tokyo, finishing on the Fuji International Speedway.

It is the lumpiest Olympics road race with riders set to face nearly 5,000 metres of climbing, including a potentially decisive 6.5km ascent of the Mikuni Pass inside the last 40 kilometres. That is the fourth of five official climbs, and the steepest, with average inclines of nearly 11 per cent.

Who is the defending champion?

Belgium’s Greg Van Avermaet has worn the gold helmet in the peloton for the last five years after taking a surprise victory ahead of Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark and Rafal Majka of Poland at Rio 2016.

Who are the favourites for gold?

The nature of the course means this should be a reasonably open race amongst the world’s best climbers and puncheurs, particularly with so many favourites coming in off the back of the Tour de France. Tadej Pogacar is an obvious contender, but could face competition within his own team with Primoz Roglic likely out to prove a point after being forced out of that race after injury. The climbing in the course may also suit Colombia – in the experienced Nairo Quintana, Esteban Chaves and Rigoberto Uran they have three fine ascenders, though in an era of great young cyclists Sergio Higuita could be due a landmark performance.

As he demonstrated during the Tour there is little that Wout van Aert cannot do and if an enlarged group reaches the finish line he is likely to have the fastest finish of those who have made it over the lumps. Don’t rule out an outsider like Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands, often there or thereabouts on this sort of parcours, or two punchy climbers at opposite ends of their careers in Belgian wunderkid Remco Evenepoel and old-stager Alejandro Valverde, who has just about everything but an Olympic medal on his palmares. All are previous winners of the Clasica de San Sebastian to which Evenepoel compared this course earlier in the week.

What about Team GB’s chances?

Great Britain have named a team full of contenders, with three Grand Tour winners in their unit. Geraint Thomas, at what is likely his last Olympics, is nominally leader of the British quarter, but teammates Tao Geoghegan Hart, Simon Yates and Adam Yates could each contend for a medal if they have brought their climbing legs.

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