The men's Team GB squad for the Olympic road races has all but been confirmed, with Geraint Thomas, Simon Yates, Adam Yates and Tao Geoghegan Hart the chosen four, according to Cycling News.
There is no room for Chris Froome in the squad, as was expected after comments made to the press by Matt Brammeier, the Team GB road coach back in April.
Also missing the cut are Hugh Carthy, James Knox, Luke Rowe and Alex Dowsett.
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Make no mistake, this is a formidable team. No other nation at the Olympics will be able to boast a squad with three Grand Tour winners. Any suggestion that Froome might have been picked on sentiment rather than performance grounds are finally and irrefutably up in smoke now, this is a team going to Tokyo to win.
Adam Yates and his brother Simon are the most likely to ‘lead’ the team in the road race, it would seem. Neither twin is expected to go for the yellow jersey in Le Tour when it starts later this month, with Adam skipping La Grande Boucle entirely to focus on his Olympic preparation and then La Vuelta. Simon will ride Le Tour, but is expected to chase stage wins rather than the overall, after a podium performance in Il Giro last month. They should both come into the Games fresher than Thomas who is aiming for the top step in Paris once again, and Geoghegan Hart who is aiming to put him there.
The riders may well let the road decide who is the out-and-out leader, but with three Ineos riders in the four, one might expect any ’50-50’ calls to go the way of A. Yates, rather than S.
While Geoghegan Hart is just as much a Grand Tour winner as Thomas, it looks as though domestique duties may fall to him as the most ‘junior’ rider in the four. Geoghegan Hart, along with Thomas, will also take part in the time trial events.
Starry though the lineup may be, it will not be an easy race for the GB team to make an impact on. Some nations will be fielding five riders in the Olympic road race, providing them with a numerical advantage – and the GB squad will likely have to ‘duck and dive’ a bit to counteract this.
The course, however, could have been tailor made for the quartet’s strengths, resembling as it does a mountain stage of a Grand Tour or the parcours of Il Lombardia. At 266 kilometres it is monumental in scale, and the final climb which peaks at 31 kilometres from the finish line seems well suited to the talents of all four riders. It is 15.3km at 5.9%, the sort of manageable gradient and lengthy ascent that suits a diesel engine like Thomas just a tiny bit better than the more explosive Yateses.
Regardless of the eventual leader, this is a GB squad with a real and genuine shot at a gold medal, Britain's first in the Olympic road race since Nicole Cooke won in 2008. The men's team has never won a gold in the road race.
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