The cycling road race at Rio 2016 is as wide open an event as any in the entire games, with most of the field open to win this race. One day races are always a mystery and this year is set to be no different. The course has elements that will test even the most experienced cyclist with cobblestones for the classics riders, a climb for the mountain riders, followed by a descent and even a flat finish for the would be sprinters. With that being said, here are the favourites to win the Olympic road race.
The list has to start with the reigning Tour de France champion Chris Froome. He was truly dominant alongside his Sky teammates in the marquee race of the season and looks to be in the form of his life. He is targeting Olympic gold and has proved before that he can win solo or as part of a team. The course is somewhat of an enigma, with Froome struggling on cobblestones, however thriving on the hills and on somewhat of a tricky descent. With the race finishing with 20km of flat, Froome will need to use all of his time trailing ability to break from the crowd if he wants to take the crown. With the time trial somewhat opening up with the injury to hot favourite Tom Domoulin, Froome may look to focus on the time trial win and hope for a break in the road race.
Chance of winning – 4/10
Next up is the young upstart in Romain Bardet. His chances in the road race are very much tied to his impressive defending and his ability to break away from the pack. Over the past few years, Bardet has shown a lot of promise in the stage races, however his true ability seems to be from breaking away during descents for solo wins. With the Rio course having a climb and a descent so close to the end, Bardet can look to set himself up for a solo victory by breaking away from the pack.
Chance of winning – 7/10
A man who has become the bookies favourite, and for good reason, Valverde has won everything he has set his mind to win. With stage wins on all the grand tours along with an overall win on the Vuelta de Espana, Valverde has been one of cycling’s best for a long time. Throughout his career, the Olympic medal has evaded him, and he publicly stated at the start of the season that he was focused on the Olympic gold. After a relatively quiet season as a member of the Movistar supporting cast, Valverde is fresh and ready to go. He does all elements of the race well, and with his sole focus on the road race, you will be hard pushed to find a more driven favourite, however this desperation could be his undoing.
Chance of winning – 8/10
Another man who has won everything he has put his mind too, Nibali has to be on any list of favourites. He has overall wins in three grand tours and has the pedigree to hang with the best of them. Somewhat out of form in the Tour however, meant that he handed over his team leader reigns to compatriot Fabio Aru. This setback did unfortunately mean that he became somewhat of a super domestique, meaning he ended up giving his all for his team. As an outsider, he is on this list as he is Vincenzo Nibali, and you cannot count him out.
Chance of winning – 3/10
The final man on this list of favourites is somewhat of an outsider to the casual fan, however the former world champion is very much up for this race. A breakaway specialist, if this race is down to the break, Rui Costa has to be the hot favourite. Having won stages throughout his career on his ability to stay clear, if Costa wants this he will have to go out hard early and hope he is joined by some strong supporters. He has a very good chance with the course being so varied, however if he stays in the pack, it could be a long day.
Chance of winning – 5/10
The complete lack of sprinters on this list may seem alarming, but this is because of the fact that the biggest climb on this course is just 20kms from the end, and the climbers will be looking to drop the sprinters before the final sprint for the victory. With such a strong field, including many grand tour winners, they will not be naive enough to allow this to end in a sprint, and if they do, they will orchestrate their own defeat.