Top cyclists to watch in Rio
Wiggins, Cavendish to star in velodrome for Great Britain
Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the individual time trial and Mark Cavendish will return to the track in the Rio Games. Cavendish and Wiggins both competed in the road cycling events in Rio, but have previously competed in the velodrome at big international events. Cavendish is a three time gold medalist at world championships and Wiggins is a five-time Olympic medalist in track cycling.
Peter Sagan takes to the mountain
Like Cavendish and Wiggins, Peter Sagan is switching disciplines in Rio. Sagan finished 34th in the road race at the London Games and will compete in the mountain bike event this time around. An accomplished road cyclist, Sagan has won the points classification in the Tour de France five years running. Thought he’s competed on the road in recent years, he’s not a newcomer to the the mountain. An 18-year-old Sagan won the junior mountain bike world championship title in 2008.
One man has won the Olympic gold medal since BMX was introduced to the Olympics in 2008: Maris Strombergs. In Rio, Strombergs will attempt to keep his streak alive. Strombergs is a two-time world champion and a three-time gold medalist at the European Championships. At 29, he’s one of the older riders in the field but is still near the top of his sport. The Latvian is No. 7 in the UCI world rankings.
Taylor Phinney was oh-so-close to an Olympic medal in London, but came up just short in both the road race and the individual time trial. After finishing fourth in each event in 2012, Phinney is looking to climb the podium in Rio. If Phinney can capture an Olympic medal, he will have completed a grueling comeback that began with a horrific crash at the 2014 USA Cycling National Road Championship. Phinney suffered a compound fracture of his left tibia and fibula and was forced to undergo multiple surgeries to repair the damage.
Sarah Hammer took home silver in both the omnium and the women’s team pursuit in London and is back for more in Rio. Hammer, 32, leads an upstart team pursuit team that won the 2016 world title and smashed the U.S. record in the event by more than five seconds. Hammer will again be competing in the omnium as well. An eight-time gold medalist at world championships, Hammer is seeking her first Olympic gold.