Golay Gets Last Chance Before Home Crowd
ATLANTA (AP) _ Cyclist Jeanne Golay figures the Americans are one up on the world even before Sunday’s Olympic road race.
``We don’t have to deal with overseas travel and foreign food. We’re home,″ said Golay, 34, America’s best hope for a medal in the 64.8-mile race that snakes through the heart of Atlanta.
Golay finished a disappointing sixth at Barcelona in 1992. Yet that was the best finish by an American since Connie Carpenter-Phinney and Rebecca Twigg of the United States finished 1-2 when the women’s road race made its Olympic debut in 1984.
In Atlanta the favorites are Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli of France, Linda Jackson of Canada and Luzi Zberg of Switzerland.
But Golay, a five-time medalist at the world championships, was spurred to come back for another Olympic try by the chance to race before home fans.
Twigg, who will ride the same course in the individual time trial on Aug. 3, said the home crowd could give Golay enough of an edge to produce an upset.
``It gives you an incredible rush,″ she said. ``We’ll all have a lot of hometown support, home country support.″
Golay will also have her own rather large cheering section, headed by her fiance Ralph Trapani. Golay, the daughter of George Golay, a star basketball player at Kansas in the late 1930s, also has seven brothers and sisters.
``They’re all coming, along with my parents and all my nieces, nephews and my future in-laws,″ Golay said. ``We’re getting together for dinner the night of the race. Right now, we’ve got a guest list of 64 people.″
Golay will be joined by teammates Allison Dunlap of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Linda Brenneman of Dana Point, Calif. Brenneman has been the dominant American rider this season, followed closely by Dunlap.
``Any three could win the race,″ national coach Chris Carmichael said. ``There’s not one dominating rider on this team.″
Golay’s only goal is for an American to reach the podium.
``I try to use my favorite status as a source of confidence rather than a source of pressure,″ Golay said. ``But mainly I just want to contribute to the team. Any win in this race will be a team effort.″
Success would do wonders for women’s cycling here, Golay said.
``What we really need is for a U.S. woman to win the gold,″ she said. ``That would do a lot for women’s cycling in the U.S. We really need a women’s version of the Tour DuPont, an event that would bring women’s cycling to a lot of places in this country.″
Sunday’s race, eight laps of an 8.1-mile course, it is the most grueling test in Olympic cycling. Like the marathon in track, the race is affected by the path it follows, full of twists and turns, hills and straightaways.
``Last October, I came and rode the course for the first time,″ Golay said. ``Since then, I’ve been replaying a mental video of it every night, trying to visualize ways to improve. The course rolls, and it’s technical with a lot of turns. When you combine its length with the hills, it becomes a deceptively difficult course.″
Figure in the searing heat and humidity, and you really have a strenuous race. Golay and Dunlap said the Americans are prepared for the torrid temperatures after training in Birmingham, Ala.
``Most of the riders won’t be accustomed to this kind of heat,″ Dunlap said. ``It should give us an advantage over the European teams.″
There’s no place like home.