Can’t stand the heat: Cheung King-lok pulls out of cycling road race after 100km
Hong Kong’s Asian champion withdraws from the 237km race exhausted in gruelling race won by Belgium’s Van Avermaet held under unseasonally hot weather
Cheung King-lok was 100 kilometres into the 237km Rio Olympics cycling road race when he was forced to pull out with sore muscles.
The Hong Kong rider, though, was in good company because more than half the 144 field failed to make it to the finish line in what was one of the most gruelling men’s road races in the history of the Olympics.
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Only 63 riders experienced the final descent leading to the finish line alongside Rio’s famous Copacabana Beach, with Belgium’s Greg van Avermaet beating Denmark’s Jakob Fugslang and Rafal Majka, of Poland, in a three-way sprint to take gold.
“It was a tough course with many uphill sections on both ends,” said coach Shen Jinkang. “It is a pity that he could not finish but nevertheless, I am sure he put in his best effort.”
Apart from the tough course, which Avermaet completed in six hours and 10 minutes, the weather made it even more difficult for the riders.
Hong Kong officials said Cheung needed to rest after his exertions. Chef de mission Kenneth Fok Kai-kong, said: “These two days have been abnormally hot from Brazil’s winter, reaching over 30 degrees [Celsius].
“I’m sure this is also a challenging factor. The temperature will drop back to the low 20s tomorrow.”
Cheung’s race marked the end of Hong Kong cycling’s involvement on the road for the Olympics as attention switches to the track where Sarah Lee Wai-sze is looking to improve on her keirin bronze from London.
Hong Kong also have Chan Chun-hing taking part in the mountain bike event.
Despite being winter in Brazil, temperatures hit 30 degrees Celcius in Rio and most of the riders were unable to cope. The 25-year-old Cheung, who won this year’s Asian Championship road race, officially finished in 119th place out of 144.
There was drama off the course when a controlled explosion was carried out on a suspicious package that had been left on its own near the finish line.
Brazilian security forces blew up the package about one hour before the leaders came in.
A Rio 2016 spokesman said: “The security services found a suspicious package close to the cycle road race finishing line in Copacabana and as a precaution decided to perform a controlled explosion. There is no impact to the race.”