Vinokourov wins Olympic gold medal

Men's road race kicks off cycling events

Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) won the gold medal in the men's road race at the 2012 London Olympic Games, outsprinting his breakaway companion Rigoberto Uran of Colombia. The two had jumped from a large break group near the end of the race, and tore down The Mall alone to the finish line. Behind them, Norwegian Alexander Kristoff won the sprint of the chase group for the bronze medal.

Vinokourov, who is retiring this season, was overjoyed at the finish. It was his second medal, after winning silver in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The wily veteran timed his moves perfectly, first upon jumping from the escape group and then taking advantage of a moment of inattention by Uran to go for the gold.

"I didn't win any stages of the Tour, but today the dream has come true," Vinokourov said at the finish.

"It is nice to finish off my career with a gold medal. I will still race in the time trial on Wednesday, but I will just spin. I have what I have wanted. I have the gold medal and I can envision my retirement."

"After so many crashes, returning to cycling was difficult for me. I still have a metal plate in my femur, so it was not easy. I was still hoping for a good result. My family and my children were behind me the entire time."

It was a major blow for the sprinters, and especially for the British team, which worked hard but fruitlessly to set things up for world champion Mark Cavendish. But perhaps the biggest loser of the day was Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, who held a promising position in the lead group until a crash into the barriers with just over 10km to go dropped him.  He finished the race, but appeared to have been injured, and his participation in Wednesday's time trial was put into question.

A large early break

As expected, the early break formed soon after the London start. Strong in numbers and in talent, Jurgen Roelandts (Belgium) and Marco Pinotti (Italy) were joined by Fumiyuki Beppu (Japan), Denis Menchov (Russia), Stuart O’Grady (Australia), Tim Duggan (USA), Lieuwe Westra (Netherlands), Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain), Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia), Michael Schar (Switzerland), Alexander Kristoff (Norway) and Sungbaek Park (Korea).

Great Britain’s appearance on the front soon followed, a mirror of their approach that was successfully applied last year in Copenhagen’s Worlds. With the gap stretching to 4:30 David Millar, Britain’s road captain, dropped down the line of the peloton, searching for expected allies in Germany. A parley with Greipel led to a brief cooperation with Tony Martin’s legs sacrificed as he joined the home nation on the front.

But as the field reached the first climb up Box Hill the gap continued to grow, reaching 5:27 at the crest.

A probing attack from Michael Rogers did little to crack the opposition but its mere intent provided Britain with enough evidence that Australia would not provide unilateral allegiance in a desire for a sprint finish.

And once Rogers was absorbed the Belgian team played their hand, massing on the front of the peloton at the start of the fourth climb of Box Hill. Nervous looks and accelerations took over but it was Vincenzo Nibali who grabbed the initiative, launching a vicious attack. Robert Gesink, Martin Elmiger, Philippe Gilbert and Greg van Avermaet latched on, as Britain was forced to react with Stannard and Froome setting a pace for Cavendish.

At the crest of the climb the Nibali group had over 15 seconds with a second batch of riders making contact on the descent.

On fifth ascent Nibali and Gilbert attacked again. This time they were joined by a group of immense firepower with Lars Boom, Jakob Fuglsang, Sylvain Chavanel, Gregory Rast (Switzerland), Andriy Grivko (Ukraine), Niki Terpstra (Netherlands), Luca Paolini (Italy), Jack Bauer (New Zealand) and Taylor Phinney.

The gap from the bunch to the lead group had been reduced to 3:50 at the top of the fifth ascent of Box Hill, but Nibali’s group had established a 30 second advantage.

With 100 kilometres to go Cavendish’s chances hung by a knife edge.

There was a brief discussion, Wiggins and Millar in conversation, before the expected reaction came. And by the sixth climb of Box Hill the Nibali group reached the top of the climb 1:15 down on the leaders, while the peloton crosses the summit 45 seconds later.

The gap continued to drop with Wiggins and Froome dictating the majority of the pace. The gap to the leaders was soon under a minute with just 20 seconds the advantage for Nibali and his accomplices. Gilbert, sensing that the move was losing its spark, and in a bid to cement a Belgian foot hold, attacked. However he was soon brought back.

Britain continued with their efforts, attempting to grind the opposition into the ground and with 170km raced Cavendish still has all four teammates on the front. The race has swung back in the sprinter’s favour.

However when the two breaks merged new life was breathed into tired legs, the Italian team, along with Timmy Duggan, the most animated aggressors. A 45 second buffer was established with the British team creating a brief lull in their chase.

With three men in the lead break Belgium’s strong position was clear and Gilbert set the pace on the foot of Box Hill for the penultimate climb. Fuglsang, who may not ride for his trade team again this year, showed his strength as he took over from Gilbert but by the top of the climb the British team has them at less than one minute.

Gilbert once again attacked, this time with more purpose. Tom Boonen meanwhile had moved closer to the head of the field, watching as Britain expended energy in the chase. Gilbert pushed his advantage to almost a minute on the final loop over Box Hill with the remnants of the break starting to splinter over the road.

The final climb of Box Hill was the last chance saloon for a number of riders, and continuous attacks were launched but the British kept their form and tempo, unrelenting in the pressure as they cushioned Cavendish towards the top. However with fresh legs having made it to the lead group on the climb the sprinters’ faced a new challenge.

Fabian Cancellara, Luis Leon Sanchez, and Alejandro Valverde were among the fresher riders and the Spanish, with three riders, brought the gap to 57 seconds, having already reeled in Gilbert.

Germany and Australia sensed the danger, moving onto the tail end of the British train.

A drag race ensued with the British team still ploughing ahead of the bunch as break sensed that Cavendish’s men had lost their grip.

Wiggins moved to the front, surely earlier than he would have liked, as he drove to peloton in pursuit. Froome soon cracked as Cancellara huffed and puffed, moving his pawns, Rast and Schar, to the head of affairs. With 25 kilometres the gap had inched out to 1:05.

Stannard was almost single-handed in the chase, while the break continued to work with greater purpose, urgency and efficiency.

Wiggins again took charge and the response was immediate with 15 seconds shaved off the gap, but with 20 km it was still 51 seconds.

Shockingly, Cancellara misjudged a corner and crashed into the barriers. The lead group was momentarily stunned but again quickly picked up the speed.  The Swiss start was soon back in the field, and then back at the race doctor's car, looking as if he may have re-injured the right collarbone which he shattered earlier this year.

Success from the lead group

Soon enough the lead group realized it would most likely get through to the end, and with 10 km to go, the unanimity in the group was over as each rider tried to figure out how to grab the gold. Vinokourov and Uran were the first to jump, building up a small lead.

No one in any of the groups was willing to work together any more, virtually handing the two top medals to Vinokourov and Uran – who were of course only reluctantly cooperating with one another.

Vinokourov took off with about 200 metres to go, catching Uran off guard. He rode joyfully over the finish line, followed by the Colombian. The first chase group came in only eight seconds later, with Kristoff taking bronze. Andre Griepel led the defeated peloton to the finish about 30 seconds later. Cancellara came in some five minutes down.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexandr Vinokurov (Kazakhstan)5:45:57 
2Rigoberto Uran Uran (Colombia)  
3Alexander Kristoff (Norway)0:00:08 
4Taylor Phinney (United States of America)  
5Sergey Lagutin (Uzbekistan)  
6Stuart O'grady (Australia)  
7Jurgen Roelandts (Belgium)  
8Gregory Rast (Switzerland)  
9Luca Paolini (Italy)  
10Jack Bauer (New Zealand)  
11Lars Boom (Netherlands)  
12Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark)  
13Rui Alberto Faria Costa (Portugal)  
14Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spain)  
15Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic)  
16Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Colombia)  
17Andriy Grivko (Ukraine)  
18Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spain)  
19Philippe Gilbert (Belgium)  
20Sylvain Chavanel (France)  
21Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia)  
22Fumiyuki Beppu (Japan)  
23Robert Gesink (Netherlands)  
24Alexandr Kolobnev (Russian Federation)  
25Lars Petter Nordhaug (Norway)  
26Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spain)0:00:16 
27Andre Greipel (Germany)0:00:40 
28Tom Boonen (Belgium)  
29Mark Cavendish (Great Britain)  
30Arnaud Demare (France)  
31Francisco Jose Ventoso Alberdi (Spain)  
32Murilo Antonio Fischer (Brazil)  
33Tyler Farrar (United States of America)  
34Peter Sagan (Slovakia)  
35Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (Costa Rica)  
36Bernhard Eisel (Austria)  
37Kam-Po Wong (Hong Kong, China)  
38Elia Viviani (Italy)  
39Hector Hugo Zamarron Rangel (Mexico)  
40Daryl Impey (South Africa)  
41Matti Breschel (Denmark)  
42Radoslav Rogina (Croatia)  
43Assan Bazayev (Kazakhstan)  
44Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spain)  
45Miguel Ubeto Aponte (Venezuela)  
46Borut Bozic (Slovenia)  
47Ramunas Navardauskas (Lithuania)  
48Yukiya Arashiro (Japan)  
49Manuel Antonio Leal Cardoso (Portugal)  
50Rene Mandri (Estonia)  
51Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela)  
52Vladimir Isaychev (Russian Federation)  
53Yauheni Hutarovich (Belarus)  
54Ivan Stevic (Serbia)  
55David Mccann (Ireland)  
56Aleksejs Saramotins (Latvia)  
57Martin Elmiger (Switzerland)  
58Nicki Sorensen (Denmark)  
59Gediminas Bagdonas (Lithuania)  
60Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland)  
61Danail Andonov Petrov (Bulgaria)  
62Adil Jelloul (Morocco)  
63Ryder Hesjedal (Canada)  
64Jussi Veikkanen (Finland)  
65Arnold Alcolea (Cuba)  
66Dmytro Krivtsov (Ukraine)  
67Kristijan Durasek (Croatia)  
68Nelson Filipe S. Simoes Oliveira (Portugal)  
69Tomas Aurelio Gil Martinez (Venezuela)  
70Lars Ytting Bak (Denmark)  
71Gonzalo Andres Garrido Zenteno (Chile)  
72Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eritrea)  
73Jan Barta (Czech Republic)  
74Sebastian Langeveld (Netherlands)  
75Gustav Larsson (Sweden)  
76Vegard Stake Laengen (Norway)  
77Branislau Samoilau (Belarus)  
78Grega Bole (Slovenia)  
79Cadel Evans (Australia)  
80Daniel Schorn (Austria)  
81Niki Terpstra (Netherlands)  
82Simon Gerrans (Australia)  
83Matthew Harley Goss (Australia)  
84Tony Gallopin (France)  
85Michael Schar (Switzerland)  
86Timothy Duggan (United States of America)  
87Nicolas Roche (Ireland)  
88Daniel Martin (Ireland)  
89Michael Rogers (Australia)  
90Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium)  
91Christopher Horner (United States of America)0:00:49 
92Ian Stannard (Great Britain)0:00:50 
93Bert Grabsch (Germany)  
94Michael Albasini (Switzerland)  
95Lieuwe Westra (Netherlands)  
96Sacha Modolo (Italy)0:00:54 
97Stijn Vandenbergh (Belgium)  
98Vincenzo Nibali (Italy)0:00:56 
99Marcel Sieberg (Germany)0:01:11 
100Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain)0:01:17 
101Tejay Van Garderen (United States of America)0:01:34 
102John Degenkolb (Germany)0:02:52 
103Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)0:05:43 
104Marco Pinotti (Italy)0:08:07 
105David Millar (Great Britain)0:09:19 
106Denis Menchov (Russian Federation)  
107Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway)  
108Christopher Froome (Great Britain)  
109Laurent Didier (Luxembourg)  
110Ioannis Tamouridis (Greece)  
111Maximiliano Ariel Richeze (Argentina)  
112Maciej Bodnar (Poland)  
113Mehdi Sohrabi (Islamic Republic of Iran)  
114Gabor Kasa (Serbia)  
115Ahmet Akdilek (Turkey)  
116Byron Patricio Guama De La Cruz (Ecuador)  
117Gregolry Panizo (Brazil)  
118Kemal Kucukbay (Turkey)  
119Magno Prado Nazaret (Brazil)  
120Oleg Berdos (Republic of Moldova)  
121Andrei Nechita (Romania)  
122Michal Golas (Poland)  
123Amir Mustafa Rusli (Malaysia)  
124Krisztian Lovassy (Hungary)  
125Greg Henderson (New Zealand)  
126Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus)  
127Soufiane Haddi (Morocco)  
DNFAlireza Haghi (Islamic Republic of Iran)  
DNFAzzedine Lagab (Algeria)  
DNFSpas Gyurov (Bulgaria)  
DNFMuhamad Adiq Husainie Othman (Malaysia)  
DNFMirac Kal (Turkey)  
DNFMuradjan Halmuratov (Uzbekistan)  
DNFTony Martin (Germany)  
DNFGiorgi Nadiradze (Georgia)  
DNFSungbaek Park (Republic of Korea)  
DNFManuel Rodas Ochoa (Guatemala)  
DNFDan Craven (Namibia)  
DNFMouhcine Lahsaini (Morocco)  
DNFOmar Hasannen (Syrian Arab Republic)  
DNFJorge Adelbio Soto Perera (Uruguay)  
DNFFabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Colombia)  
DNFMickael Bourgain (France)  
DNFAmir Zargari (Islamic Republic of Iran)  


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