(, August 9) -- One day after the men's race showcased the challenging Olympic Road course, the women's race will be held on Sunday, August 10. The event will start at 2:00 p.m. local time and finish at 5:30 p.m.
As with the men's race, the 66 starters will begin in downtown Beijing and race 78 kilometers to Juyongguan in Changping County, northwest of the capital. From there they will begin two hilly, 23.8-kilometer circuits between Juyongguan and the Badaling section of the. Each circuit entails a 12-kilometer ascent to Badaling followed by a descent back to Juyongguan. The finish for the race is a 700-meter climb at 6% grade to the Cloud Platform, a finely carved marble archway that marks the finish line.
The Beijing Olympicis claimed by several top cyclists to be the most difficult course in Olympic history.
The Top Contenders
Judith Arndt of Germany hopes to erase the disappointment of being beaten into the silver-medal place at theOlympic Games as she leads the list of favorites in the Women's Road Race. Arndt was the 2004 Women's Road Race world champion and led the 2008 season-long World Cup series. A winner of 18 German national championships across all disciplines, Arndt is an ist on the road and track, and arrives in Beijing fresh from victory in the Thuringen-Rundfahrt Women's Tour event.
The 2008 Australian Women's Road Race champion, Oenone Wood of Australia is known for her climbing and sprinting skills and is expected to do well on the challenging Olympic Road Cycling course. Wood, the 2004 and 2005 Women's World Cup champion, has achieved three consecutive world championship top-10 finishes.
The Australian 2004 Athens Women's Road Race gold medalist, Sara Carrigan will also hope to defend her title with help form Wood and teammate Kate Bates.
The UCI Women's Road standings leader, Marinane Vos of the Netherlands, claimed her maiden Women's Road Race world championship in 2006, at the age 19. Vos, the reigning Women's World Cup champion, is the two-time defending La Fleche Wallonne Feminine champion, an event that features a similar uphill finish to that of the Beijing Road Cycling course.
Nicole Cooke of Great Britain placed fifth in Athens and was the winner of the overall World Cup crowns in 2003 and 2006. Cooke is known for her attacking style on climbs and aims to become the first British women to claim an Olympic Road Cycling medal.
Susanne Ljungskog of Sweden, a two-time Women's Road Race world champion and a two-time defending Tour de l'Aude champion, is an all-rounder who can get over climbs and fight it out to the finish.
Two months before her fiftieth birthday, Franceswill contest her seventh consecutive Olympic Women's Road Race. Longo-Ciprelli was the Olympic Women's Road Race gold medalist.