The Olympic Games is the pinnacle of world sport. However in the increasing­ly commercial sponsor-rich cycling world, many teams see it as an inconvenie­nce as their riders seek personal goals that have little benefit for the team. As a rider it means so much to be selected to represent your country at the Olympics but you need to approach the race with a different mindset as it always highlights just how spoiled we are as profession­als. Gone are the luxurious team buses, the nutritioni­sts and the pinpoint logistical organisati­on.

The restrictio­ns were tight. We were only allowed to leave the hotel for training, and sanitary conditions were quite honestly excellent as every one adhered to mask wearing and even plastic glove wearing in the restaurant. It felt more like a Worlds than the Olympics with a hotel full of cyclists in national uniform.

Much was made of the weather in Japan but we were honestly quite fortunate. It was of course hot and humid but the norm would have been 35-38 degrees. In comparison the 25-30 celsius we had to deal with was temperate although sitting in the start village, sweat dripping off my nose, I might have argued differentl­y. Rain showers meant the conditions were quite pleasant throughout the day but that heat started to bite in the finale and the last steep climb was like a cauldron. Before we reached that point the breakaway had got an enormous gap. I was getting nervous but when riding for a smaller team like Ireland with only three riders, there is not much you can do to control the race. You just need to enjoy the ride. There was a distinct lack of informatio­n. Of course there is a motorbike displaying a hastily scrawled often illegible scribble on a chalkboard but unless you are in the top 10 of the peloton, you don’t even see it. There was a beautiful simplicity that I admit to enjoying about the race as the smaller teams and lack of radios meant there was little structure or organisati­on to things. I cooked on the final climb in the heat and just lacked a little bit to be with the leading group over the top. It felt like a missed opportunit­y and upset me more than I expected. An Olympic medal is a lofty goal but it felt attainable. It wasn’t to be but I was proud of the way that we rode as a team and gave it our all. It was a special race and Carapaz was a worthy winner. All that was left was a short night’s sleep and a 5am trip to the airport. Arriving in London Heathrow, the confused police officer, noticing my Olympic uniform, questioned, “You back already? I thought it only just started?” Indeed, after two weeks of watching on TV it felt like I had never been there but it was special all the same.

 ??  ?? Dan rode strongly to 16th in Tokyo, but just lacked that little extra to make the winning group in the heat and humidity
Dan rode strongly to 16th in Tokyo, but just lacked that little extra to make the winning group in the heat and humidity
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