it is likely that we simply come at from different generations. in the history of cycling the olympics is meaningless unless you are perhaps talking of track. maybe it's if you started following cycling in the past two decades. no matter how much the olympics may have in general athletic tradition, the cycling road race is relatively new in including pros, is like a subsidiary event in the event itself, the olympic road race is not cycling, it is simply not in the tradition of cycling and that is why I say it is meaningless. For example, San Sebastian and Strade mean more.
It's like saying that a pro footballer dreams of an Olympic medal... uh, nope.
In the history of cycling an Olympic Gold is not the greatest thing you can win, but an Olympic Gold is still an Olympic Gold. It is a huge thing to win it.
Cycling is one of the oldest sports, even for the olympics. It was part of the very first international Olympics in 1896.
So to say "it is simply not in the tradition of cycling" is false.
In my country it was a big thing when Bernt Johansson won the gold medal in Montreal in 1976, back when only amateurs could ride it. He then went on to become pro and had a pretty good career.
When Carapaz won the gold medal in 2022 it was only the third gold medal in the history of the Olympics for Ecuador. 5th medal ever for them. Im sure it meant a lot.
Perhaps some other races are more prestigious, but it is not a nothing race and riders wants to win it. Maybe more for their country, than for themselves. Even though a gold medal is great for future sponsorships and for when your career is done. You can live off being an olympian champion for the rest of your life.
And football in the Olympics not meaning anything? I know myself and most of my country were gutted when the womens team lost the final on penalties in the last Olympics. The players did seem to care a lot. Again, when it comes to the Olympics I dont think it just an individual achievement. We are all proud when someone wins something. At least us smaller populated countries.