Chicago has been eliminated in the first round of International Olympic Committee balloting to determine the host city for the 2016 Olympic Games. The announcement this hour from the International Olympic Committee meeting at Copenhagen lets the air out of the tires for anyone who had thrilled at the prospect of Madison serving as a satellite host for cycling events.
\The disappointment of local officials and partisans is all the more acute because Chicago had emerged as an odds-on favorite on the eve of final balloting, chased by Rio de Janeiro, while Madrid and Tokyo lagged. There was also some sentiment that a Chicago Olympics might push regional infrastructural improvements such as light rail past the tipping point, and present the greater Madison area to the world as a cycling destination.
But with all four candidates mounting high-powered last-minute lobbying efforts (including personal appearances by President Obama, his Brazilian counterpart and former IOC chief Juan Antonio Samaranch on behalf of their respective candidate cities) amid fluctuating odds in the final days and hours before voting -- and considering the IOC's notoriously unpredictable balloting process, in which the applicant claiming the fewest votes in a given round is eliminated and the supporters of each round's casualty redirect their votes in each successive round until one city emerges with a majority -- the prospect of a surprise was always a possibility.
Chicago's loss is also Madison's. Had the IOC awarded the 2016 Olympic Games to Chicago, the greater Madison area would have hosted cycling's road-race, time-trial and off-road events. The odds of that prospect ever arising again in your lifetime might be even steeper than some of the hills the world's best cyclists would have confronted here.