Gold medals for Van Avermaet and van der Breggen - Weekend Wrap

Overall wins for Contador, Morton, and Rui Vinhas, Pieters wins Route de France prologue and Mont-Sainte World Cup

Greg Van Avermaet put his broken collarbone from the Tour of Flanders and all his second place finishes behind him as the Belgian claimed his country's first road race medal at the Olympic Games since Axel Merckx's bronze in 2004 and first gold medal since André Noyelle in 1952. Van Avermaet gave himself a 'five per cent chance' of victory ahead of the challenging 237.5km race but got the better of Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark) and Rafal Majka (Poland) in the spring for gold for the biggest win of his career

"It's the biggest thing ever. I think I can say that it is the highlight of my career. It's going to be the highlight of all of my career to come. It doesn't get any bigger than this so I'm just so happy that I could have a big win like this in my career. It's really a good feeling," Van Avermaet said of the victory. 

Majka, Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) and Sergio Henao (Colombia) had been at the front of the race only for a crash to take out Nibali and Henao, leaving the Polish rider as the leader on the road. With Nibali nursing a broken collabone and Henao a fractured pelvis as the sat sat on the roadside with their gold dreams dashed, Majka led solo until Van Avermaet and Fuglsang bridged across in the final kilometres. Once under the flamme rouge, Majka pulled over to leave Fuglsang and Van Avermaet to battle for gold for the BMC rider coming out on top.

"This is a very nice moment. I've quite often been close, just not won, but this makes up for it," added Van Avermaet.

Click here for the full race report, results and photos from Rio.

 

Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium) checks the gold content of his medal (TDW Sport)

Women's Olympic road race

Anna van der Breggen made it consecutive gold medals in the Olympic road race for the Netherlands after a thrilling finale but it was a day of mixed emotions with teammate Annemiek van Vleuten crashing out of the race while in the lead, suffering severe concussion and three fractures to her spine.

Van der Breggen, Emma Johansson (Sweden) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) caught and passed Mara Abbott (United States) insight of the finish line after the 30-year-old had led solo to Fort Copacabana following the crash of van Vleuten.

"I saw the 150m to go sign, and I thought, 'this is all very unreal'. It's incredible, really," said van der Breggen who had taken just one win prior to the Olympics in 2016 having defended her La Flèche Wallonne Féminine title.

After a day of cohesive team work by USA to make the race and set up Abbott for the win, the Wiggle-High5 rider described her disappointment with fourth place after being in pole position for the win.

"I didn't believe it. I saw the 300m to go sign, and I thought 'holy shit, I can actually win this'," Abbott said. "Then I looked under my shoulder and they were right there, and they passed me. There was a split second when I thought it and then... It feels awful, but at the same time you were supported by a team that worked so hard and did so well to give you a chance to win."

 For the full race report, results and photos from Rio, click here

 

Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) shows off her gold medal (TDW Sport)

Vuelta a Burgos

Alberto Contador marked his return to racing after his Tour de France abandon to take the narrowest of victories by one second over Ben Hermans (BMC) and Sergio Pardilla (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) while Simon Yates was fourth at four seconds.

The Tinkoff rider was second on the final and queen stage to Lagunas de Neila, won by Pardilla, to seal his first overall victory of the 2016 season and show his form and condition before his bid for a record fourth Vuelta a Espana title later this month.

"To tell the truth, I had no idea if I could win, I have had a very high pulse rate all this week, particularly in the [stage 2] team time trial, and today I said I wouldn't look at it anymore on the monitor and just went for it instead," Contador said, adding of his intention for Vuelta glory. "Now I will be going on to the Vuelta a España, with the idea of going for the win."

Saturday's stage 4 belonged to Nathan Haas of Australia who won his first race in the colours of Data Dimension. The 27-year-old got the better of Jempy Drucker (BMC), who was second for the third time in four days, and Cannondale-Drapac's Paddy Bevin and was quick to praise his team and teammates.

I've always been a firm believer that teamwork makes wins happen, it doesn't happen purely because someone is good or strong. It happens because the whole team is together and doing exactly what they need to," said Haas. "So a huge thanks to the guys for believing in me and I think the way we are working here is really exciting coming into the Vuelta a Espana. I think we will see something pretty exciting in the next month."

Click here for the full race coverage of the 2016 Vuelta a Burgos.

Tour of Utah

A storming final stage ride by Lachlan Morton landed the Australian both the stage win and overall victory, one day after he lost the yellow jersey to Cannondale-Drapac's Andrew Talansky. Second place on stage 7 lifted 18-year-old Adrien Costa, the youngest rider in the race, into second place overall with the Axeon Hagens Berman rider also claiming the KOM and best young rider classifications. 

"It's easy for people to come out and congratulate you or pat you on the back when do something good, but when you're down and out that's when you know who your friends are," Morton said in his post-race interview. "I guess I was thinking about all those people in all those tough moments, and that's what was going through my head."

Talansky had taken the yellow jersey off Morton's back on the queen stage to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort with Darwin Atapuma (BMC Racing Team) in second place. Despite his Cannondale-Drapac team working to save his lead, the 27-year-old said after stage 7 that he didn't have the legs as he slipped to third, 1:39 minutes down on Morton. Talansky will next line up at the Vuelta a Espana with Cannondale-Drapac and build on his Utah performances

Click here for the full race coverage of the 2016 Tour of Utah.

Volta a Portugal

Rui Vinhas held on to win the 2016 Volta a Portugal with the 29-year-old holding the leader's jersey he first wore after stage 3 to the conclusion of the race in Lisbon. W52-FC Porto-Porto Canal teammate Gustavo Cesar Veloso also kept his second place overall and enjoyed the final day time trial win.

The overall win is the biggest yet of Vinhas' career and capped off a supburb race for this team who enjoyed four wins across the ten-stage race.

For the complete 2016 Volta a Portugal race page with results from the ten stages, click here.

Route de France

Wiggle High 5's Amy Pieters took out the Route de France prologue ahead of Orica-AIS' Sarah Roy in Saint Quentin to repeat her 2015 success. The 25-year-old covered the 3.2km course in 4:18 minutes, 10 seconds ahead of Roy and Floortje Mackaij (Liv-Plantur) to take the first leader's jersey of the race.

Stage 1 takes the peloton from Saint Quentin to Pontoise and expected bunch sprint finish.

Click here for the full La Route de France race page.

UCI MTB World Cup XCO #5 & DHI #6

Mont-Sainte-Anne hosted round five of the cross-country world cup and round six of the downhill world cup series in what was a final hit out for the  mtb riders before the Olympic Games.

In the women's downhill, it was a similar story with Rachel Atherton's dominance continuing as she defeated Tracey Hannah by over 11 seconds. For the men, former world champion Danny Hart had a far narrower victory with his winning margin a slender .6 of a second ahead of Aaron Gwin.

With Nino Schurter skipping the cross-country race, Julien Absalon easily won his 32nd career world cup round and in doing so, moved into the overall world cup lead.Victor Koretzky (BH-SR Suntour-KMC) and Mathias Fluckiger (Stöckli Pro Team) rounded out the podium.

In the women's race, Catharine Pendrel (Luna) won on home soil for the fourth time with Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida Biking Team) second at 43 seconds. Compatriot Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing XC) was third with world champion Annika Langvad (Specialized Racing) fourth to retain her lead in the overall world cup standings.

For the complete UCI MTB World Cup XCO #5 & DHI #6 results, click here

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