London 2012: Day One Preview

Take a look at all the action coming up on Day One of competition at the London 2012 Olympics.

Take a look at all the action coming up on the first day of competition at the London 2012 Olympics.

#cadel

Can Cadel and company upset the Brits?

The men's road race is always a Games highlight, providing the awesome sight of the peloton - close to 150-strong - flashing through the streets at top speed.

The race will start and finish at The Mall, the long road that links Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace, before heading across the River Thames and out into country outside London, then looping back to central London.

Coming just six days after the finish of the Tour de France, the question is who has enough left in their legs to challenge in the race for the Olympic title.

Sadly, the defending champion from Beijing, Spain's Samuel Sanchez, is unlikely to start after abandoning the Tour de France following a crash where he broke his hand and fractured his shoulder blade.

The biggest name in the Australian team is Cadel Evans, but is more likely someone like sprinter Matt Goss or all-rounder Simon Gerrans will be the one that the team supports for a podium finish.

For Britain, the main candidate for gold is sprinter Mark Cavendish. Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins will be on the start line, but he and the British team will be riding for a victory for the Manx Missile.

A rider making a big case for favouritism is young Slovakian Peter Sagan, who won three stages on his debut in this year's Tour de France on the way to victory in the green jersey (points) competition.

Sagan appears to have no fear of any rider of the more experienced men in the peloton, and if he is anywhere near the lead close to the finish he will be hard to stop.

#pippa

Aussie rowers without Pippa

Australian rowing has had its ups and downs in recent years, so much so that we almost expect some Olympic year drama to occur.

The team hopes the drama has been and gone before this year's Games rather than during the competition, with the curious case of Pippa Savage.

Savage was sent back to Australia from Europe in the middle of the final qualification events for the Olympics and kicked off the women's quad sculls crew for "incompatibility issues" with the other three women in the boat.

Kerry Hore, Dana Faletic and Pauline Frasca remain in the crew for London, aided by reserve Amy Clay.

The incident reminds sports lovers why the camaraderie between team-mates can often be as important as the team's ability.

Australian team management will be hoping that the new combination can click on the waters of Eton Dorney and challenge for the medals.

Their main opposition for the podium will be Germany, United States and Switzerland, with the home team from Britain a chance of getting into the medals.

#mensswim

Middle distance swim kings

Things can change quickly in Olympic events.

Prior to Beijing, the 400m freestyle seemed like the personal possession of Australia's Ian Thorpe. But come the showpiece event in China, it was American Erik Vendt who was at the top of the world rankings going in to the Games.

But Vendt did not even make the medals, with team-mate Larsen Jensen taking bronze behind China's Lin Zhang and new champion Tae Hwan Park of South Korea.

This time round, a look at the rankings would suggest the title will be heading to Asia again.

Three of the top five times in the world this year in the eight-lap event are held by Chinese swimmers, with defending champion Park second-fastest in a time of 3:44.22.

The top-ranked Australian is David McKeon - the son and nephew of former Australian Olympic swimmers Ron and Rob McKeon - who is sixth with a time of 3:46.36 at the Olympic trials in Adelaide.

That means that he needs a lot of improvement to challenge for the title, but he is less than a second off the third-ranked swimmer, Yunqi Li of China, so a medal is not out of the question.

#rice

Rice out to defend title

The individual medley is swimming's equivalent of the heptathlon or decathlon - a multi-discipline race with four strokes in one.

It is hard enough to swim 100m at top speed in any of the four strokes - backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle - to do all four takes a true all-rounder.

In this challenging race, swimmers have to swim two laps of each stroke, where one bad leg can destroy their chances of victory.

Elizabeth Beisel from the United States is the one to beat in London. She has the fastest time in the world this year of 4:31.74, set at the US Olympic trials.

Rice won the gold medal in Beijing, breaking the world record in the process. However, the last four years have not gone to plan.

She required major shoulder surgery in 2010, and some minor surgery early this year - she also caused controversy with comments she sent from her Twitter account which lost her some lucrative sponsorships.

Rice returned to form at the Olympic trials in Adelaide, and has the fifth fastest time in the world for 2012, but she is nearly two seconds outside Beisel's time. Rice needs to lift if she is to have a chance of defending her title.

If there is to be a local heroine in London, it will be Hannah Miley, whose best time at this year's British championships was less than a second outside Beisel's.

Miley is the reigning Commonwealth champion, having won the event in Delhi representing Scotland.

#libby

Libby's swansong

This race will see the farewell of Australia's Libby Trickett, who was the lone veteran swimmer to make a successful comeback at this year's Olympic trials, in comparison with Ian Thorpe, Michael Klim and Geoff Huegill.

The relay has been dominated by the United States, which has won the gold medal 14 times since its inception at the 1912 Games in Stockholm.

However the US has not had things its own way in recent years.

Australia caused an upset in the pool in Athens, as the team of Alice Mills, Trickett (then Libby Lenton), Petria Thomas and Jodie Henry won the event for Australia for the first time since 1956, breaking the world record in the process.

Then in Beijing it was the Netherlands who took the title, beating the United States with Australia winning the bronze medal.

In London, Australia will doubtless be locked in a fierce battle with the United States and the Netherlands for the gold, although going into the Games it is the Germans, Italians and the Dutch who have the top times of the year for the relay event.

In individual terms, Melanie Schlanger and Cate Campbell are ranked in the top ten, while Olympic debutants Yolane Kukla and Brittany Elmslie, and Alicia Coutts are ranked 15th, 16th and 17th.

In comparison, the United States also have five swimmers in the top 20, and the Netherlands, Denmark and Britain each have two. It will be an intriguing race, and an Australian win would put one over on the Americans and give Trickett a fairytale farewell from the sport.