Race the Olympic Road Course


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The men's road race is one of the first events following Friday night's Olympic Opening Ceremony, and it presents Great Britain with one of its best chances at a medal. Four of the five racers on the British team racked up a total of seven stage wins at this year's Tour de France, with the squad's biggest hope, Mark Cavendish, notching three of those victories. The final stage of the Tour, in which yellow jersey Wiggins did a monster pull in the closing kilometers to lead out Cavendish for a perfect win, could be a high-profile dress rehearsal for London. The U.S. team—captained by Chris Horner and including Tyler Farrar, Timmy Duggan, Tejay Van Garderen and Taylor Phinney—had their own measures of success at the Tour and will be looking to prevent that from happening with Tyler Farrar.

But first Cavendish, Farrar, and all the other sprinters will have to make it over nine trips up Box Hill. Much has been made about this sharp little climbing circuit in the middle of the road race course, and many have speculated that the fast men could well be dropped. That's a possibility, but given that the climb is relatively short (1.6 miles) and not especially steep (average five percent grade) and considering that Cavendish and the like should be in tip-top form from the Tour, it's hard to bet against the race coming down to a mass sprint. One thing's certain though: Box Hill is definitely the most prominent feature on this otherwise fast, sinuous urban course.

This week, Strava announced its Box Hill Beat the Best Challenge, which lets amateur riders compete virtually for the best time up this climbing segment. The company promises unspecified awards to the top three men and women finishers. Given that at least a few big-name pros are on Strava (including Horner, Phinney and Duggan), the real enticement might be getting to see how you compare—quantitatively—to the pros. To compete, simply join the challenge on Strava, and then ride Box Hill anytime between July 21 and August 18. (The road is closed to the public July 25-30.)

Fancy yourself as fast as the pros? Well, now you can prove it.

—Aaron Gulley