*Same disclaimer as last time. Things should be back to normal for the TT previews!*

The Route

A shorter version of the men’s race, the women will only tackle the main climb once.

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The climb is tough but not overly challenging, with the hardest part coming at the beginning. The more explosive climbers will hope to make a difference here. Like the men’s race, there is a fast descent followed by a stretch of flat road (around 9km) until the finish line on Copacabana beach.

You can view an interactive profile here.

How will the race pan out?

This race is all about the final climb. There is obviously a chance that a break could have formed itself beforehand and with the right riders (& nations) in it, stay away until the end. However, this is unlikely, it definitely won’t be the first break of the day that wins, that’s for sure!

Like the men’s race, the race will blow to bits on the final climb, with a solo rider maybe making it to the finish after cresting the summit alone. We equally could see a small bunch sprint, or a late attack on the flat sticking! I favour a small group making it to the line together.

Contenders

No better place to start than with the strongest squad here: Team USA. They have three potential winners with Evelyn Stevens, Megan Guarnier and Mara Abbott all with strong chances. Out of the three, I’d have Guarnier as favourite. She is the fastest of the three from a small group, and has been absolutely sensational this season: winning the Giro Rosa earlier in May. Abbott and Stevens will be fantastic lieutenants and have a great chance themselves. Abbott’s problem is that she is great at going up hill, just not down. Numbers will be very important for the squad, and they’ll be very attacking in the finale. I’ll be very shocked if the star-spangled banner isn’t on the podium at the end of the day!

evelyn stevens sets new hour record cycling

The Dutch have the next strongest team. Former World Champion Marianne Vos lines up for them. She’s still re-finding her feet in the peloton and is looking very strong, but I’m not sure that she’ll be climbing well enough to win here. Instead, they will probably look to Anna van der Breggen to bring home the Gold. She’s had a great year so far, winning Fleche and finishing on the podium at the Giro Rosa. Annemiek van Vleuten will be used as a satellite rider but can’t be underestimated herself!

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Fleche 2016

Italy’s chances of a medal will lie with Elisa Longo Borghini. The 24-year old has had a very consistent and solid season, and seems to be climbing better than ever. She’ll hope to be within touching distance at the top of the mountain and make her way back on during the descent. I think she’ll top 5.

Team GB…

elephant-in-the-room

Very intrigued to see how Armitstead goes here after everything that has happened this past week. She may respond brilliantly, but I’m not so confident. I also think there could be a “anyone but her” approach from some of the peloton. If you follow me on Twitter then you’ll already know my very strong views on her support riders. Not a fan of Pooley and the way she’s got into the team, but that’s a rant for another day! I don’t think we’ll see a GB podium finish here.

Katarzyna (Kasia) Niewiadoma has the weight of a nation on her young shoulders. The 21-year old comes into the Games with a great chance of picking up a medal for Poland. An excellent climber, she should be able to cope with the climb, it all depends how far back she is, if at all, once they summit. Youthful exuberance may get the better of her!

flechewallonne2016-niewiadoma

South African, Ashleigh Moolman, seems to be building form for the race nicely with good showings at the Aviva Women’s Tour and Thüringen Rundfahrt. On her day she can climb with the best, and should not be given too much of a gap!

Whereas, Germany will hope Claudia Lichtenberg has a great day. However, she’ll need to finish solo as she doesn’t have a great sprint on her.

Johansson (SWE), Neff (SUI), Ferrand Prevot (FRA) & Amialiusik (BLR) will hope to pull something off, but not being as strong on the climbs as some of the favourites, they’ll need a bit of luck to go their way. Don’t get me wrong, they are all great riders but on a pure climb I’m not sure how they’ll go.

One massive outsider I’m keen to mention, who was originally pointed out by Cyclepieces, is the Brazilian rider: Flavia Oliveira. She recently finished 2nd at the Tour de Pologne behind the aforementioned Neff so is evidently in great shape. I’m also factoring in the classic football theory, where World Cups in South America were won by South American teams. Same rules apply here? Furthermore, my interest in her has been exacerbated by a L’Equipe article that suggests Brazilians haven’t been drug tested for the majority of July, so yeah…

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Prediction

I’ve had this rider in my mind for this race for a while, but to’d and fro’d whether to pick her. Trying to come up with other candidates and almost convincing myself otherwise. But now I’ve seen some sense and I’m confident that she’ll pick up the win here.

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Coming off of the incredible season she’s had, I don’t think anyone can beat Megan Guarnier and she’ll be our Olympic Champion. Her climbing has been impeccable, she has a great sprint for a climber, but more importantly, she’ll have team-mates left at the end. The only way she doesn’t win this race, is if one of her team-mates does.

Megan-Guarnier-April-2016_Velofocus

Betting

Backing Guarnier straight up with 4.8pts at 11/2 (Sky & Coral), would take 5/1, or even 9/2.

Bit of a fun 0.1pt EW bet on Oliveira at 200/1 with PaddyPower, Ladbrokes or Betfair.

 

How do you think the race will pan out? As usual, any feedback is greatly appreciated! Normal, full service should resume for the TTs once I’m back from being on holiday. Hope you enjoy the race wherever you’re watching it from! Anyway,

Those were My Two Spokes Worth.

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