It was a bizarre scene watching Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland), arguably one of the best bike handlers in the professional ranks, crash for no apparent reason in the closing kilometers of the men’s Olympic road race. The Swiss star was hoping to improve on his third place finish from the previous Games in Beijing – later elevated to second after Davide Rebellin's positive test – but the fall ruled him out of contention for the gold medal.
Cancellara had made an impressive return to form at the Tour de France when he won the opening prologue and wore the maillot jaune for a week following his crash and broken collarbone in the early part of the year at Tour of Flanders. Watching Cancellara nurse his same right shoulder was a worrying sight, but he was able to remount and finish the race, albeit without a medal.
The reigning Olympic time trial champion praised his team for all their hard work throughout the day but ultimately he was unable to repay them with a result. If Cancellara had not crashed, the result would most likely have been very different.
“The team showed a perfect race and I thank my teammates for the work they have done and their support. Today we were clearly the strongest team. That's why I'm doubly disappointed and annoyed that I crashed in this way,” said Cancellara.
Crossing the finish line, a clearly upset Cancellara was embraced by his national coach, as he perhaps saw the chance of a repeat time trial victory disappearing along with his road race hopes. An x-ray on Saturday evening revealed no fracture to Cancellara's shoulder, although he did sustain deep bruising in the fall.
“Looks like a hard night with lots of pain. Happy [nothing] is broken but the pain will be on! For the time trial nothing is sure yet,” he said on Twitter. “Have no words left. The tears are stronger than the pain.”