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Three Kiwi road cyclists set to make us proud
Jul 28th, 12. The three Kiwi road cyclists at the Olympics are ready and eager for their races, and they all have medal prospects in mind.
The first medals to be awarded at these Games are for tomorrow's men's road race - and first time Olympian Jack Bauer's job is to do all he can to help NZ teammate Greg Henderson to be in a position to contest that medal.
The 250km road race includes nine laps of Box Hill where the zig-zag climb will take its toll as the laps are ticked off, but most people are expecting a sprint finish from a select bunch of 50-70 riders.
If that is the case, Henderson, in his 5th Olympics but first on on the road, should be - as he often says - "there or there abouts".
Henderson's whole season has been targetted towards the Tour de France and this Olympic road race. He came through the Tour injury free, and despite carrying an illness for the mid-part of the three week effort, he hit the final day with great feelings in his legs.
The Tour de France record book showed Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel as the most successful sprinters, while Peter Sagan matched their successes with three stage victories.
At the Olympics, Cavendish (Team GB) has four teammates including Tour champion Bradley Wiggins who successfully helped lead the Manxman out to victory last week. Greipel (Germany) also has four teammates while Sagan (Slovakia) has none.
One key person missing from Greipel's support team is Henderson. Given his team role, Henderson's ability to sprint on his own were not tested during the Tour. He placed 6th in sprints twice, but that was as part of a leadout train for Greipel.
Tomorrow the Kiwi gets his chance to be back at the helm.
With his great speed and fantastic skill of reading a race finish, plus the performance boost from the Tour, Henderson is a real contender. In a sprint finish at this level, a medal or a 10th placing can be just millimetres away from each other - and New Zealand will be cheering Bauer and Hendy on to get in the best position when it matters most.
In Sunday's women's road race, New Zealand has just one representative - Linda Villumsen.
When she was 23 years old, Villumsen represented Denmark at the Beijing Olympics and placed 5th in the road race, fast forward four years and she is now a New Zealand citizen and very proud to call herself a Kiwi Olympian.
The women's course follows the same route as the men's, but instead of nine laps of the Box Hill circuit the 67-strong women's peloton have two laps for a total of 140km.
Villumsen's prime event is the time trial next week - she has one Commonwealth Games and three World Championship time trial medals - but she is not going to the road race just for training. With her pro-team, she has had four podium results at top level road races this year.
One of her three goals of 2012 was to podium at these Olympics, Villumsen told RoadCycling.co.nz earlier this season.
"My first goal is building strength so I can perform at my highest level at the Olympics. My second goal is to medal at the Olympics. My third goal is to medal at the World Championships time trial and road race.
"I can't have it all – but I can try to aim high at least!"
Aim high Kiwis!
The whole of the wider NZ cycling family will be cheering you on - and Ben and Sarah from RoadCycling.co.nz will be doing so from the Grandstand in London.
Kiwi road cycling
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