Crashes, mechanicals, a large breakaway and 5 men trying to bring it all back was not the Olympic Road race I predicted. But even with my favourite not crossing the line first you still have to give a cheer for Vinoukourov (KAZ) who takes the gold medal on the final year of his cycling career.
The first break was early in the race and took with it 12 strong riders including: Schar (SUI), Duggan (USA), Menchov (RUS), O’Grady (AUS), Castroviejo (ESP), Brajkovic (SLO), Beppu (JAP), Park (KOR), Roelandts (BEL), Westra (NED), and Pinotti (ITA). With such a large break Team GB was pushed hard the entire race to bring it back with a little help from Germany who had Griepel to bring to a sprint finish.
There was plenty of entertainment on Box Hill with about 3 laps to go another break shot off including top Pro riders such as Vincenzo Nibali (Italy), Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) and Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic), Andriy Grivko (Ukraine) and Jakob Fugslang (Denmark) and by the final lap of Box Hill both groups merged to make a 25 strong group ahead of the peloton.
Gilbert went off ahead on the last lap of Box Hill but was not allowed to stay away as the lead group reeled him back, and then it was the Swiss team including Cancellara who pushed on along with the Spanish to maintain around a 55 sec gap on the peloton.
Many believed that this would now be a year for Cancellara as hopes for the Team GB and the peloton to catch him and the lead group faded. But cycling is unpredictable and with less than 20km to go Cancellara crashed when he took a corner wide and his dream of Olympic gold faded.
With 10km to go it was obvious that Mark Cavendish was not going to be the one to cross the line first and the lead group of over 20 riders including Phinney(USA) VanGarderen(USA) L.L Sanchez (ESP) Vinokourov (KAZ) Uran (COL) O’Grady (AUS) Kirstoff (NOR) Bauer (NZL) Chavenel (FRA) Gilbert (BEL) was bound to give us all a good strong finish.
From Putney Bridge Vinokourov and Uran sprinted off the front and in true Pro Cycling style the remaining riders began playing cat and mouse with each other. The lack of attacks from the main bunch meant the challenge for the gold was going to go down to just two riders.
In the end it was Vinokourov that was the strongest one and Kazakhstan wins its first gold medal of the Olympic Games.
I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed that it wasn’t the Manx Missile that came over that line first, but I can say that the men’s road race was full of drama, and that’s exactly what cycling fans want in an Olympic final.
Gold – A. Vinokourov (KAZ)
Silver – R. Uran Uran (COL)
Bronze- A. Kristoff (NOR)