22 Octobre 2004: Jeux olympiques d'Athènes: Le Frischi report
Voici comment Thomas a vécu sa course olympique, sur des boyaux!
"Olympic Games are the most spectacular thing in my sport career. This was before Athens and will stay like this forever. It's not only depending on the result. It's a great success just to be there. It's awesome to be part of it. The importance and size of the event built up a pressure that either make you strong or make you fail. For myself I can say that some of my best performances were at the Games.
In Atlanta, I won the silver medal and finished the 234km road race less than 24 hours later. In Sydney, I was in the lead solo for three quarters of the race until my legs cramped up and moved back to 6th place. In Athens it was the opposite. Lying on the ground in the first turn but then moving up from 34th to 7th place.
For the first time, I was not going into the Olympics as one of the big favourites. Especially since we had Christoph Sauser on the Swiss squad, the attention was more on him this time. But latest when we were preriding the difficult course, it was clear for myself and also my rivals, Frischi is back in the game. On one side the course layout suited myself. But more important, I had the best equipment for this particular course! The terrain was very loose, all gravel and sand that gave no traction at all. Pressure and tread of the tires was key to get around the tight turns. Knowing about the importance of this requirement, I had special wheels built for the Olympics, based on tubulars. The tubulars are hand built by Dugast in Holland, who are known to make the best speciality tubulars for Cyclo-Cross, Track or road races like Paris-Roubaix. They use a Ritchey tire, cut the sidewalls off, grind the inside out and glue the tread onto handmade cotton tubular that's around 45 millimetres wide. I then glue the tubular onto a super light Ritchey carbon fibre tubular rim. I was on this project over the past 15 month and since I pulled out these wheels only two weeks before the games, I had them exclusively.
Why all this work? A tubular can be ridden with very low-pressure witch gives great traction. In Athens this was key! Tubulars are also very puncture resistant and the wheels with the carbon rim come at an excellent weight. Together with the new 970 gram SCOTT Scale carbon fibre frame that was also made specifically for the Olympics I had one of the lightest bikes. The result was that in training no one was able to follow me on the descents and I was able to ride some steep up hills, where others had to get off the bike.
My bike was talk Nr.1 and Frischi started to dream about a medal again... As you know it did not come together, as I crashed already 10 seconds into the race. I had a good start taking the first left hand turn in about 6th position. I saw a corridor on the left and tried to move up. Right in that moment Bart Brentjens moved over to the left and pushed with his hips my handlebar into the barriers. My barend hocked up and next I know I'm on the ground. Until I got going again I was in 34th position out of 50. Battling with the hippies for position!
The dream was over, the hopes were gone. I figured I better try to enjoy my last two hours at Olympics instead of getting too pissed of. And after two laps I started to get going again. After a third of the race I was in 20th place, after two thirds I was in 14th. I had one goal left, finishing in top ten or maybe even get a diploma for top eight, tough that was still more than two minutes up the road. I gave it all and had some of the fastest lap times towards the end of the race. The result was a fine 7th place witch is the optimum of what I could deliver. The result sure was not as good as it could be. But I'm very pleased with my performance and will keep the 10 days in Athens in best memory. And that's what counts!"