Riders fear heat and testing course

It's going to be hot, very hot, in Athens this afternoon for the men's road race. The one consolatio

It’s going to be hot, very hot, in Athens this afternoon for the men’s road race. The one consolatio

PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE They reckon it’s going to be later 40 degrees by later afternoon in Athens today (Saturday), which will make it hot work for the peloton in the men’s road race, as the 17-lap and 224km race reaches a climax. But at least Servais Knaven of Holland will have some nice holiday snaps. “Normally we don’t have any time for sightseeing but I have brought my camera with me,” said the former Paris-Roubaix winner earlier this week. “I spent a year at school studying Greek history, although I have forgotten most of the Greek mythology. But maybe when I see the Acropolis everything will come flooding back…” Tyler Hamilton meanwhile, will have little time for tourism. The Bostonian, who will also ride next week’s men’s time trial, is keen to make up for his Tour de France abandon. “The Olympics are my first race back after abandoning the Tour,” he said. “My back is still not 100 per cent, but I feel good. I am here to succeed.” Hamilton dismissed the notion that quitting the Tour had proved a benefit to his Olympic preparations. “I wouldn’t call getting injured during the Tour a silver lining,” he added. “I stopped the Tour still physically fresh. I took a week off the bike and have been training very hard since.” Ear-marked as a potential gold medallist, Paolo Bettini of Italy, knows that the killer blows will come in the final laps. “You will have to wait until the last three laps,” he said. “Maybe then you will have a chance to stay away from the peloton, but it’s a gamble.” But on a more technical course than many had expected, and on hot and slick roads, covered with a fine layer of dust, bike handling skills could prove very significant. “Compared to Sydney this route is more technical,” said Hamilton. “I expect to see the race strung out more.” Hamilton’s American team mate, Bobby Julich, agreed. “It’s much more technical than I thought it would be. A few of us were surprised just how slick the road is. If they get any rain, it will be dangerous out there.” Seems like Bobby J can relax however. According to the locals, they don’t expect rain until November…