Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Olympic Mountain Bike TV Schedule

The mountain bikers that will wear the Maple Leaf at this summer's Olympic Games in China are not taking any chances.

The four-member team, led by 2004 Olympic silver medallist Marie-Helene Premont of Chateau-Richer, Que., will train in Canada and won't arrive in Beijing until a few days before their races.

It's a move veteran racer Seamus McGrath of Millgrove, Ont., supports. He wants to avoid the searing heat and choking pollution expected to swirl around the Laoshan Mountain Bike Course as long as possible.

"You can control everything at home," McGrath said during a telephone conference call Friday.

"You can control your diet, you get good sleep, good training.

"Basically you don't want to change too much before the Olympic Games. Go with what you know."

Also named to the team by the Canadian Cycling Association was Catharine Pendrel of Kamloops, B.C., and Geoff Kabush of Victoria.

Premont is currently ranked third in the world by the International Cycling Union. The 31-year-old has won a medal at all five World Cup races this season and was fourth at the recent world championships in Italy.

Premont may have slipped under the radar heading into Athens but knows she will be on everyone's screen this year.

"For sure there is more attention on me," she said. "I have prepared and I will go there to do the best I can. That's what I did in Athens. I hope it's going to work this time too."

Having competed at one Olympics, she is more mentally prepared for this year's Games.
"I'm more relaxed than I was," said Premont, who has a degree in kinesiology and is studying to be a pharmacist. "I know what the Olympic Games are.

"I am going there with more confidence. I am really prepared for that race. I am sure everything is going to go well."

Pendrel, 28, has been a consistent top-10 performer on the World Cup the past two seasons. She is currently ranked 12th in the world.

She rode the 4.6-kilometre Olympic course at last year's test event, finishing seventh despite extremely hot and moist conditions "I think it's a good course for me," said Pendrel. "It is very physically demanding. There is absolutely no rest on it.

"It's pretty similar terrain to Kamloops, lots of steep climbs, dry, hard-packed soil. I think that will bode even better for the Canadians."

Kabush, 31, and McGrath, 32, are both international veterans. Kabush won a World Cup bronze medal earlier this season. McGrath was ninth in the Athens Olympics and won a bronze at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in 2006.

Sean O'Donnell, the high performance manager for the Canadian Cycling Association, said both the men and women have podium potential.

"We are very excited by these four athletes that are going to Beijing," said O'Donnell. "I think we go into Beijing, on both the women's and men's side, with a strong chance of earning at least one medal in each event.

"It's a very strong team, an experienced team. I think that bodes well for Canada."

Many of the riders got their first taste of the air around Beijing at last year's test event and were not impressed. American rider Adam Craig dropped out of the race, saying the pollution resulted in him "coughing, hacking, spitting up all sorts of gross stuff and feeling nauseous."

Kabush said you can adapt to the heat but "there is no acclamation to pollution.
"I think the strategy for a lot of us is just going to be to avoid that as long as possible."

When the team arrives they will use air filters in their rooms and possibly wear masks while training.

To battle the heat, riders will don ice vests to cool their body temperatures before their events and will race dressed in light-weight, breathable clothing.

Some Olympic athletes plan to train in countries near China prior to the Games. O'Donnell said given the choice, the mountain bikers preferred to stay in Canada.

"I think it's a comfort level for the athletes," he said. "They know how to prepared themselves. We are putting a little bit of trust in them to follow through on that promise to come to Beijing properly prepared."

The women's cross country race is August 22 and the men's race on August 23.

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Men's Road Race - August 9


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Women's Road Race - August 10


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Women's Road Ind. Time Trial - August 13


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Men's Road Ind. Time Trial - August 13


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Men's Track Team Sprint - August 15


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Men's Track Points Race - August 16


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Men's Track Ind. Pursuit - August 16


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Men's Track Keirin - August 16


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Women's Track Ind. Pursuit - August 17


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Women's Track Points Race - August 18


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Men's Track Team Pursuit - August 18


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Men's Track Madison - August 19


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Women's Track Sprint - August 19


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Men's Track Sprint - August 19


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Women's BMX - August 21


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Men's BMX - August 21


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Women's Mountain Bike - August 22


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Men's Mountain Bike - August 23


CBC TV

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