ATHENS, Greece -- World champion Igor Astarloa of Spain and
Dutch veteran Michael Boogerd were among four riders forced to
abandon the Olympic road race Saturday after crashing badly on the opening lap.
Astarloa went down together with a small bunch of riders only a
few minutes into the twisting, 139.4-mile course that circles 17
times through the narrow streets near the Parthenon and Greek
Colombian outsider Marlon Perez and Russia's Vladimir Karpets
also were forced out of the race because of the early crash.
Astarloa's teammate Jose Ivan Gutierrez was able to continue the
race and joined the pack a few minutes later.
The course has been criticized as dangerous by several riders
because of its tight bends, stretches of cobblestone and even
patches of spilled oil.
Astarloa had been among the favorites to win the race.