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Rio notebook: Bomb scare, Phinney’s plan, and John Kerry

Taylor Phinney's mustache and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stood out at the start line Saturday in Rio

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Our reporters in Rio de Janeiro already bring you the biggest stories and best analysis every day. But what of the notes they scrawl in the margins, those little bits of gossip and narrative that rarely see the light of day? You’ll find those here.

Bomb scare
Rio’s bomb squad arrived at the finish line about half way through the men’s road race and used a “controlled detonation” to get rid of a suspicious bag. The noise was audible for TV audiences, but the explosion was small enough that it went unnoticed in the pressroom about 400 meters away.

Reversed finish line
The Olympics are not the Tour de France. Things just don’t run as smoothly, particularly here in Brazil. For example, the setup at the start/finish line was backwards from what we’re used to, with the grandstands just past the finish line and the mixed zone, where media stands for interviews, in front of it. So media got a great view of the finish, and fans didn’t. An odd choice indeed — usually race organizers care far more about the paying customers.

John Kerry in the house (or at the beach, anyway)
Secretary of State John Kerry was in attendance at the road race on Saturday. Kerry, a known road racing and riding geek, met with Americans Taylor Phinney and Brent Bookwalter before the race began and watched the start from the sidelines. He seemed genuinely stoked on the whole scene.

Saving the best for later
Taylor Phinney pulled out of the road race about five hours after it began so that he could recover better for the time trial on Wednesday, which he enters with a good shot at the podium. Why pull out when he’s so close to the finish? Phinney said he is more mature than he was four years ago. Plus he was no longer in contention. A smart move, we think.