Jose Antonio Hermida (Spain) finished fourth in his fourth participation at the Olympic Games. He raced the elite men's mountain bike event on Sunday afternoon near London.
It wasn't a medal-winning ride, but it was close. "I'm very happy. Everyone has setbacks in the race and there is always the feeling of what would have happened if... You can always think and think about many details, but that happens to all the riders," said Hermida, who won the silver medal in Athens in 2004.
"I felt good and I could make it up to the front group. Still, [Julien] Absalon had a problem on a rocky climb and that made me lose important time. I gave it all to try to contact the three leaders and with [Burry] Stander, we closed that gap." Hermida and Stander successfully bridged up to the eventual top three finishers: Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech), Nino Schurter (Switzerland) and Marco Fontana (Italy).
But with a lap and a half to go, another setback marked the end of the Hermida's time in the lead, five-man group. "My chain fell off just when I was opening a gap on Stander and the leading group was reduced to four. I knew Burry would pay the effort of the first two laps."
From that moment onward, the race was for fourth place. For Hermida, it was matter of pride to race Stander for the fourth place. He beat him in the final meters of competition.
"On that last lap, I could not slow down. I had to keep the fourth spot and give it all in case any of the three in front would have suffered a mishap. The medal I was coming for was still possible. Finally this did not happen, but I'm happy because I've given everything I had. The level of the front riders was very similar and details made the differences."
Hermida's first Olympic Games was in Sydney in 2000, when he also finished fourth. "I have gone full circle," said Hermida. "In Sydney, I was fourth with a chain problem and this is exactly what has happened to me again four years later."