Eurosport previews the two Olympic road race events for men and women in the Tokyo Games.
The Tour de France has been altered to make room for some of the biggest names in the sport, though some have had to withdraw due to injury, coronavirus concerns, or to manage the exertions of a busy race schedule over the course of 2021.
Here’s everything you need to know about the two races.
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Men’s road race

When and where is the race?

The Men’s road race will take place on 24 July 2021 in Tokyo, with a hilly route that takes in a climb at Mount Fuji.

What kind of route is it?

The race features plenty of climbs which opens up the opportunity to hill specialists, but there’s enough flat track and descents to keep the interest of those suited to sprints or more routine courses.
The race has almost five kilometres of climbing, though there is a 40km flat side, and after a series of climbs including at Mount Fuji, there’s a lap of the Speedway Circuit.

Who will be taking part in the race?

Julian Alaphilippe is perhaps the biggest absence, but there will be this year’s Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar as well as third-placed rider Richard Carapaz.
22-year-old Slovenian Pogacar is the favourite, with his climbing dominance during the Tour suggesting he will be hard to match.

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Countryman Primoz Roglic may be compelled to support the current Tour champion, but he was expected to push him all the way in France until he suffered a crash, and he may wish to go for gold himself, especially if he is fresher than his compatriot.
Elsewhere there is Wout van Aert, whose all-round ability means Netherlands have a real contender. Belgium have a similar presence in Remco Evenepoel, who has the skill-set to make it across the climbs, win a sprint or dominate a breakaway.
Joao Almeida, Evenepoel’s Deceuninck-Quickstep teammate, will be freed from racing only to support the Belgian in Tokyo, while Germany has Max Schachmann to challenge.
Britain can call upon Adam Yates and Simon Yates, who will hope to push for at least a podium place. Cycling powerhouse Colombia provides Sergio Higuita, Nairo Quintana and Esteban Chaves.
Italy have a strong squad, and are able to offer up Gianni Moscon, Vincenzo Nibali and Gulio Ciccone.
Other riders who may believe they’re in with a chance are Canada’s Mike Woods, France’s David Gaudu, the Netherlands’ Bauke Mollema, Ecuador’s Carapaz, Denmark’s Jakob Fulsang, Australian Richie Porte, Ireland’s Dan Martin, Switzerland’s Gino Mader and Kazakhstan’s Alexey Lutsenko.

Richie Porte, Michal Kwiatkowski and Richard Carapaz leading the Peloton on Mont Ventoux.

Image credit: Getty Images

Porte, speaking to Cycling News, said it would be difficult to predict who would win, given the small size of the teams.
"The road race is a lottery with such small teams and for us having Jack Haig and Lucas Hamilton injured as well. I think that it's a lottery if a break goes up the road because there aren't big teams to control things," he said.
"In Rio the climb was good for me, but you didn't expect someone like Greg van Avermaet to win on that course. I guess I didn't want to end up on a hospital bed, that wasn't the outcome that I was after.
"With the heat we had in the Tour that will help for Tokyo and the role at the Tour will help for going into Tokyo."
"I like the look of the course in Tokyo, and in 2016 I didn't have the best Olympic experience. So it will be nice to be in Tokyo and just enjoy it. It won't be a normal Olympics but I'm looking forward to representing my country
"You can never say that a bike race doesn't have pressure or stress," he said.
"Even the stages where you're given the green light to put the brakes on with 10km to go, they're still stressful but it's not the same as when you've got a guy in the jersey. It's an easier role than fighting for GC for yourself. Hopefully that means that going into Tokyo I'll be better there."

Women’s road race

When and where is the race?

The women’s road race at the Tokyo Olympics is scheduled for Sunday July 25, the day after the men’s event.
Some teams will be allowed to feature up to four riders, while others from major cycling nations such as Great Britain, can have just two, which ups the chances for some nations and also allows for a greater scope of teamwork.

What kind of route is it?

Unlike the men’s course, the pass on the lower reaches of Mount Fuji will not feature. Like the men’s race, they will complete a lap of the Fuji International Speedway at the end of the race.
There’s around half as much climbing as in the men’s version, with 2.7km over the course of 137km, a gruelling task. But like the men’s race there will be plenty of chances for climbers to attack, and enough on the descent and in the flats for other riders to fancy their chances.

Who will be taking part in the race?

There is a sea of talent for Tokyo.
With the climbs ahead, that will naturally favour the Dutch duo of Marianne Vos and Demi Vollering, but it is hard to rule out the sheer talent of the rest of the team, Annemiek van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen.

Annemiek van Vleuten

Image credit: Getty Images

America, Italy, Australia and Germany are the other four countries who are permitted four-rider squads. America will have Trek Segafredo’s Ruth Winder, as well as Leah Thomas. They will be joined by Coryn Rivera. Filling the last spot is Chloe Dygert.
Australian will be able to call upon Grace Brown, Sarah Gigante, Tiffany Cromwell, and their leader, Amanda Spratt.
Germany have Lisa Brennauer, Clara Koppenburg and Liane Lipper, while Italy should field Elisa Longo Borghini, as well as Soraya Paladin.
There are a host of other potential winners, too. That includes: Denmark’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Poland’s Kasia Niewiadoma, Spain’s Mavi Garcia. Belgium’s Lotte Kopecky, Valerie Demey and Julie van de Velde.
For Britain, there’s Lizzie Deignan and Anna Shackley, with Deignan expected to lead the attempt with help from her 20-year-old teammate.
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