No sightseeing for road racing's Philip Deignan

August 7, 2008

“To be honest the heat doesn’t bother me as much as it does some of the riders, it’s something you get used to although it would be nice if it was a little cooler but I wouldn’t like it to rain because that would make stretches of the course more dangerous,” said Deignan.

The mass start takes place at Beijing’s Yongdingmen Gate. 

The course will pass such landmarks as the Temple of Heaven, the Great Hall of the People, Tiananmen Square and National Stadium as the race route slices north. 

After rolling over relatively flat terrain for the first 78.8km the riders then race the daunting proposition of seven loops of a 23.8km circuit up and down the Badaling Pass near the Great Wall.

The Badaling Pass gains 338.2m in elevation in 12.4km from the start of the circuit to the highest point.

The ramparts of the Wall straddle the finish area above the Juyongguan Pass.

There have been a lot of concerns over the levels of pollution but Deignan says that isn’t a problem.

“The loop around the Wall is far enough out of town and it’s at altitude so it’s cooler, fresher and much healthier for the cyclists. As for the climb, it’s really tough, it’s twelve kilometres long and it’s a not a regular gradient, it’s steep then it levels out and then it goes up again so it’s hard to get a good rhythm on. We have to do it seven times, it takes about twenty-five minutes each time and once you’ve done over two hundred kilometres it’s going to hurt.”

In a regular road race such as the Tour de France you would have the help of a dozen team mates but Deignan and Roche only have each other for support unlike some other countries.

“With only the two of us there isn’t a lot you can do as far as tactics are concerned especially against the big countries such as Spain, France and Germany who will all have five riders but in a way that makes us underdogs and neither of us will be watched as closely as the big nations so in the race we’ll just have to sit back and watch what happens and while they’re watching each other, hopefully we can take advantage.”

Deignan’s season has gone well riding for his French team Ag2r-La Mondiale. He raced well in both the Giro d’Italia and Tour of Switzerland and hopes that a place on the Tour de France isn’t far away.

Obviously medalling will be tough but the race will claim its victims and in a one-off event who knows what might happen.

“You can’t really do anymore than your best, I know I have prepared the best I can over the last few months and I’m in the best shape possible. The race itself can be so unpredictable and a lot of guys won’t even finish and you have to factor in crashes and mechanical problems so if I can avoid any mishaps and race as hard as I can we’ll see where I end up.”

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