Early mechanical derails Absalon's Olympic hopes

Flat tire ends his chances of defending his gold medal

Julien Absalon (France) saw his Olympic dreams go up in smoke with a puncture in the opening stages of the men's mountain bike race. The two-time defending Olympic champion went into the race as one of the hot favourites but on the first lap, the Frenchman suffered a puncture. Trailing the leaders by over a minute by the end of the lap, he pulled out of the race.

"The first lap was the worst thing that could happen to me, because I did hard work for four years to be 100 per cent today, and to have a mechanical problem is the worst luck, so I am very disappointed," the French national champion said. "I had a puncture at a bad moment. It's hard to finish my last Olympics like this. I was in good shape but, after one lap, I was in (27th) place, 55 seconds behind. I didn't have any chance to reach the podium."

"For sure, I felt some [pressure], but my mind was tranquil. I was feeling OK and I came here with two medals. If I had won here today, it would have been a great finish. That's our sport, and it's a mechanical sport - and that's the risk."

Absalon won gold in both Athens and Beijing, making him the most decorated male athlete in men's Olympic mountain biking but at 31, London possibly represents his final Games. He would not rule out competing in Rio in four years time but hinted that his Olympic career could well be over.

"I cannot say that for sure, because I am disappointed, but I think so, yes."

He recently signed with BMC for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

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