One of the oldest disciplines in Cycling, Road Cycling was held for the first time at the 1896 Olympic Games, spanning 87 kilometres between Athens and Marathon, starting and ending in the Greek capital. The route was the same as in the Athletics race.
However, the sport was not included in the next three Games: Paris in 1900, St. Louis (USA) in 1904, and London in 1908. Despite this, Cycling gained popularity over the years, especially in Europe – countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain and Italy are among the world powers in the sport.
The bicycles used in Road Cycling are lighter than normal bikes – their frames are made from carbon fiber and other materials, meaning that their minimum weight is just 6.8 kg. The handlebars are low due to aerodynamic factors, so that riders can save energy and gain speed along the route. Current bikes have up to 20 gears, used for all types of stretches, such as mountain climbs, descents and straight lines.
The current Olympic programme in this discipline of Cycling is composed of four events (two for men and two for women). One of them is the road race, won by whoever is first to finish the course of approximately 250 kilometres for men and 140 kilometres for women - the women’s race entered the Olympic programme in 1984 in Los Angeles. All competitors start off together, and whoever crosses the finishing line first wins the gold medal.
At the Atlanta Games in 1996, men’s and women’s time trials joined the competition programme, in which each athlete has to cover a trajectory of around 46 kilometres for men or 32 kilometres for women in the shortest time possible. Each participant starts off alone every 90 seconds.