More Olympic road races?

In the Olympics, why are there seeming endless swimming races, track (running) races, and gymnastics events, but only two road cycling events? Why isn’t there a bunch sprint, a puncheur race, a hillclimb or mountaintop finish, and a three-day stage race?

Obviously there’s substantial cost involved, and shutting down roads in a city already hosting the Olympics isn’t easy. And the role of the Olympics in cycling isn’t the same as it is in other sports. And it’s hard to fit in to the already busy calendar.

But still, it seems unfair! A cyclist’s chance of winning the Olympic road race is often completely dependent on the parcours. An event that’s held every four years is only winnable by a one segment of the pro peloton.

In swimming, there are races to accommodate every specific strength. In freestyle alone, there are 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1,500m, and 10,000m races, not to mention all the other strokes and relay races.

Incidentally, I have this same question about the World Championships, but at this point there’s a tradition of a puncheur route… and would the rainbow jersey change hands throughout the season depending on the specific race?

I think this post is meant more to have some fun than to correct a grave injustice, but if you were starting from scratch to design an event to crown the best road cyclists in the world, what would it look like?

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Money/tv rights talk and people love the swimming events, I’m certain there are psychological reasons towards what people like or dislike by what they can relate to but anyway…

Ps. I don’t bother watching the Olympics anymore, the last one was Barcelona 1992.

There’s only one long distance swimming race, vs many many pool events.
Same as cycling - two road events vs many track events. Plus there’s BMX races, BMX freestyle, MTB XC.

The same issue can be raised for many sports - lots of effort for only one medal. My brother sailed at the olympics. There are a few classes but they run simultaneously, so you could never do more than one even if you had the talent. A week of races where every race counts to the final result. One medal.

The World Road Championships is often parcours dependent, nobody says run a climber and sprinter friendly version in the same year. The limited opportunities for a RR gold in the Olympics and WC is what makes them so prestious when they are won. Sprinters have stage 21 of the Tour every year.

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I feel the Olympic Road Race was better when it was amateur’s only, the pro’s already had enough races of their own.

I often rant about how dumb swimming events are and how swimmers can be “the greatest Olympian of all time” just because they can swim forwards, backwards, like an old lady but fast, and all of them again but in a row, and then again in a relay.
There aren’t any backwards running races…

Soccer, basketball, cycling, etc don’t get the chances at a medal. I agree with you. But I wouldn’t change anything. None of it really matters, anyway…

People love the swimming events? Maybe in the US and Oz - for the rest of the world, they clog up the first half of the Olympics… constantly on the telly, with nobody watching *

*this market research based on a survey of me and a few people I’ve discussed it with


Because these aren’t considered different disciplines in their own right so their is absolutely no reason to do that.

In my minority view, an event should only appear in the Olympics if winning the gold medal was the absolute pinnacle of that sport. Therefore, I would keep track and wouldn’t have any road racing. Tennis and golf would also disappear. That’s just me though. If other folks love it, happy for them.



There are match sprints, there’s a points race and scratch for puncheurs, there is also an Omnium, run over 3 days - they’re just inside.

Exactly. There’s plenty of variety in the track cycling for different kinds of riders.

I’d be happy for there to be no road cycling in the Olympics. I agree that only sports where the Olympics are the pinnacle should be included in the Olympics. Frankly the whole event of the Olympics is too bloated and should be paired back to encourage more variety in bids from around the world.

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Agree. The Olympics are a griftathon in my opinion. There are a few books covering the economic impacts of the games in host countries especially in more developing countries. Andrew Zimbalist’s “Rio 2016: Olympic Myths, Hard Realities” is a good read.

Personally would rather see the Olympics spread out to multiple locations to allow for better facilities/parcours for the events while increasing sustainability from both an economic and environmental perspective but that’s a different topic for a different day.

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Bill Simmons proposed that medals should be different sizes and weights to reflect the effort for them. China funds singles events to win the Gold Medal table.

The thing about the Olympic Road Race, to be The men’s Olympic Champion hasn’t been the undisputed best. You only have v1 every 4 years, and the last three have been 3-star riders at best.

To be A UCI World Champion for the road race, it’s not a problem having a 3-star champion like Mads Pederson, because there are 5-star champions like JA.

There’s some aspect to the Olympics about exposure that might be important. There are some sports that are anachronistic. But for others, this is the only way to be interested in it. I rock climbed as a hobby more than a decade ago, but it was really interesting to see it as a sport. Water polo, volleyball, I love them. Other people who know nothing about cycling might see cycling in the same way.

The problem with road race cycling, Olympics or not, unlike any other sport, is that there are no progression points to see who is ahead at any point, nor is there some point when you know you can definitely pay attention. But that’s another issue.

For things like Baseball, Softball, Basketball, etc they have to go through a multi-day tournament just to get to the single gold medal game. So lots more going on for a viewer but for an athlete it’s a ton of competition for just one medal.

Good point. There should be three tennis medals for clay, grass, and hardcourt!

I’d personally make the Olympics amateur only - no pros (in any sport). But that’s OT.

I’m also baffled by how many diving events there are. It feels endless. That’s also OT.

But I’m cool with only 1 road race.

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PedersEn. And yes JA is one of the best, but I feel that PedersEn has more than proved that his 2019 WC title was no accident. So calling him a 3-star champ is ridiculous at best IMHO.

Regarding Olympic RR champions, GVA has won a monument, Vino is, well, Vino, and Sanchez was a great rider (that I really liked until his discreet departure from pro cycling - even though he was kind of “cleared” later).

Pedersen is a deserved 3-star. I might be swayed to consider him 4-star, but it’s an upgrade on what felt like at the time he was considered a totally undeserving champion. But it would be a hard argument to consider him The Best.

For the Olympics, I’m not saying they are bad bike riders, only that they are not who you would consider as The Best in the 4-year cycle.

He was the best of the day. That is all that counts in a World championship or Olympic event.

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