RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Chris Froome describes Saturday's Olympic men's road race as a lottery but the Briton will still fancy his chances of winning gold alongside the Copacabana despite a brutal course that plays into the hands of his rivals.
Fresh from winning the Tour de France for the third time in four years, Briton Froome has arrived in Rio with his eyes on two golds, having settled for a time trial bronze in 2012.
His best chance will probably come in next week's time trial, but such was his dominance on all terrains in France last month that many see him as the man to beat on Saturday.
The course, a 237km slog featuring 5,000 meters of climbs along Rio's verdant coastline, has everything from cobbles, lung-burning climbs and tricky descents and a flat blast to the finish.
"The road race is like a lottery. Anything can happen, and you must be willing to take some chances," Froome, who will not be able to count on his Team Sky train this time, said.
"But when I first saw the course I thought, if there was a one-day course I could win, it would look something like this."
Fellow Briton Adam Yates, who finished fourth in the Tour, will have his own medal dreams and Froome will be hunted by the likes of Italy's Vincenzo Nibali, Frenchman Romain Bardet and Spain's Alejandro Valverde who was runner-up in Paris.
"This is a course for pure climbers," 2014 Tour de France winner Nibali says. "When I saw the course, I knew this was a special opportunity and I changed my preparation to arrive in Rio in optimum condition."
The men's and women's races start and finish at Fort Copacabana and begin with a flat 40km before the pain begins.
Four loops of the "Grumari circuit" featuring two sharp climbs is followed by three tours of the Vista Chinesa circuit that resembles an Alpine stage with an 8.9km climb that boasts a 19 percent gradient in places.
"The climb is so hard, the peloton is going to be blown to bits," said Britain's Lizzie Armistead, one of the women's favourites, said of the route for their race which tackles Grumari twice and Vista Chinesa once.
Armitstead's build-up has been dogged by controversy after she escaped a ban for missing three doping tests and others like American Megan Guarnier will be eager to attack.
Other contenders for the women's medals are defending champion Marianne Vos and her Dutch team mate Anna Van Der Bruggen.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
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