Fabian Cancellara closed out his 16-year professional cycling career on top, winning the gold medal at the Olympic Games men's time trial in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday. It was the second gold medal of his Olympic career after he won in Beijing.
Fifth last to start, Cancellara was not the overwhelming favourite after a lacklustre showing in the flatter time trial at the Tour de France in July. But with his power into the wind, excellent pacing on the first lap, and a superb effort on the final climb, Cancellara crushed the competition. Silver medalist Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) was a distant 47 seconds down, and Tour winner Chris Froome narrowly edged out Spaniard Jonathan Castroviejo for bronze at 1:02.
"It's pretty special, I still don't really have the words," a beaming Cancellara said. "After the disappointment in 2012, and many other up and downs that I've had, and this is my last season, it's my Olympic Games and my last chance to do something."
It was a stark contrast from his performance in London, where he was seventh after crashing in the road race and injuring his shoulder.
The 54.6km course included two laps of the tough circuit - each with two climbs, the steep 1km Grumari ascent and a shallower 2km Grota Funda climb, with rain making the technical descents treacherous.
"I knew that it was going to be a tough day, a challenging one with Chris Froome, Tom Dumoulin and all the others. It was an open course for all different characteristics. I have no words. Finishing, after 16 years, with the gold, it's not bad."
Cancellara led the field by less than a second after 10km, but then at the second check 9.7km later, he was 24 seconds behind Australian Rohan Dennis, and a handful of seconds down on Castroviejo and Dumoulin.
He said he didn't do anything specific for the second lap, only that the pacing on the first circuit was key. "We looked at it with the trainers and the team manager, we worked hard and even yesterday I had my doubts. I think it was good doubts. In the end, I found a way to focus on what I needed to do and this was not to go too fast at the beginning because over an hour, you have to balance everything right. I balanced if well in the first lap and I knew that I had to do that. I found a good key to go well over the whole day and now I'm just happy."
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