Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) closed his illustrious Olympic Games career with an emotional victory in the men's time trial. Cancellara put in a storming ride in Rio to beat pre-race favourites Tom Dumoulin (Netherland) and Chris Froome (Great Britain) with his time of 1:12:15.
It is the second Olympic time trial title for Cancellara, who took gold in Beijing eight years ago. Despite his pedigree in the discipline, Cancellara was by no means the favourite going in but he had shown that he was climbing well with a strong performance in the road race. Competing in the final Olympic time trial of his career, the Swiss rider was a man on a mission, posting the fastest time at the top of the Grumari climb by a hairs breath over Rohan Dennis (Australia).
There was a brief blip at the second check, where he lost almost 25 seconds to Dennis, but that was quickly put behind him as he sailed back to the top by the time he hit the second lap. He would stay there right to the finish, demolishing the present fastest time of Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain) by over a minute.
Cancellara had a few tense moments to see whether his time would actually be good enough to secure the gold medal. Dumoulin had pushed him close on a couple of occasions over the course but the flat run to the line proved enough for Cancellara to extend his advantage over the Dutchman to 47 seconds. Froome was the final rider to come complete the 54.6km course, but he had no answer to Cancellara and just slipped into third place. It was heartbreak for Castroviejo, who missed out on a medal by just four seconds.
How it unfolded
After clear skies and sunshine in the road race, there was no such luck for the time trial, with clouds blanketing the skyline and wind whipping up off the sea. The rain that had blighted the women's event had abated but the early riders were still subject to damp, drying roads. With two laps of the 29.9km circuit, the riders went off in two waves.
First off the ramp was Namibia's Dan Craven, a late call-up after the departure of some injured riders. Only finding out that he would participate just days before, Craven lined up on his standard road bike with a helmet cover the only vestige of aero on his person.
Craven's place in the time trial provided a nice tale in the early part of the time trial but the true story would come much later in the day. Leopold König (Czech Republic), one of the final starters in the first wave, set the early benchmark. He paced himself well on the opening lap, moving up the standings on the second loop and going fastest at the finish with his time of 01:15:23. With over 45 minutes separating the final rider of the first group and the first of the following group, König would have plenty of time to enjoy his time in the gold medal position.
As the next group of riders passed through the opening checkpoint on the top of the Grumari climb, the Czech rider knew it wouldn't last. Cancellara was the surprise quickest rider at the 10km mark, considering the steepness of the Grumari climb, going just 0.67 seconds quicker than the next best rider Dennis.
Cancellara inexplicably lost time at the second check, moving below Dennis and Dumoulin in the standings. Dumoulin had made a slower start to his time trial, perhaps affected by his wrist injury, but began clawing his way back over the second half of the circuit. Froome went into the time trial as the big favourite but he gave himself plenty to do, losing 30 seconds on the opening lap.
Whatever had happened to Cancellara in the second half of the opening lap was dealt with by the time he approached the Grumari climb for the final time. The Swiss specialist and 2008 Olympic champion was a whopping 18 seconds clear of Dennis at the top. There was still some hope for Dennis, who was the first of the medal contenders on the road, until disaster struck on the flat run to the final climb of the day. The Australian's left aero bar broke, forcing him to change bikes. His mechanic was on the ball and had his replacement off the rack before the car had come to a halt but the time lost left his medal hopes hanging by a thread.
Behind the Australian, Dumoulin and Froome were snapping at his heels, and he would slip off the podium at the 44-kilometre mark. There was no slip from Cancellara on the second lap and he would only extend his lead as he progressed through the course. In the end, nobody could get anywhere near the Swiss rider, who won by a country mile over his competitors.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)||1:12:15|
|2||Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands)||0:00:47|
|3||Christopher Froome (Great Britain)||0:01:02|
|4||Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spain)||0:01:06|
|5||Rohan Dennis (Australia)||0:01:10|
|6||Maciej Bodnar (Poland)||0:01:50|
|7||Nelson Oliveira (Portugal)||0:02:00|
|8||Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spain)||0:02:06|
|9||Geraint Thomas (Great Britain)||0:02:37|
|10||Primoz Roglic (Slovenia)||0:02:40|
|11||Leopold Konig (Czech Republic)||0:03:08|
|12||Tony Martin (Germany)||0:03:18|
|13||Simon Geschke (Germany)||0:03:34|
|14||Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland)||0:03:40|
|15||Jan Barta (Czech Republic)||0:03:41|
|16||Georg Preidler (Austria)||0:03:47|
|17||Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus)||0:03:50|
|18||Andriy Grivko (Ukraine)||0:04:18|
|19||Christopher Juul Jensen (Denmark)||0:04:34|
|20||Tim Wellens (Belgium)||0:04:34|
|21||Hugo Houle (Canada)||0:04:47|
|22||Taylor Phinney (United States of America)||0:05:10|
|23||Brent Bookwalter (United States of America)||0:05:42|
|24||Andrey Zeits (Kazakhstan)||0:06:32|
|25||Kanstantsin Siutsou (Belarus)||0:06:43|
|26||Eduardo Sepulveda (Argentina)||0:06:52|
|27||Damiano Caruso (Italy)||0:07:31|
|28||Pavel Kochetkov (Russian Federation)||0:07:52|
|29||Alexis Vuillermoz (France)||0:08:28|
|30||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway)||0:08:57|
|31||Ghader Mizbani Iranagh (Islamic Republic of Iran)||0:09:24|
|32||Julian Alaphilippe (France)||0:12:25|
|33||Mouhssine Lahsaini (Morocco)||0:12:56|
|34||Ahmet Orken (Turkey)||0:15:22|
|35||Dan Craven (Namibia)||0:15:33|
|DNS||Yonathan Monsalve (Venezuela)|
|DNS||Youcef Reguigui (Algeria)|
Born in Ireland to a cycling family and later moved to the Isle of Man, so there was no surprise when I got into the sport. Studied sports journalism at university before going on to do a Masters in sports broadcast. After university I spent three months interning at Eurosport, where I covered the Tour de France. In 2012 I started at Procycling Magazine, before becoming the deputy editor of Procycling Week. I then joined Cyclingnews, in December 2013.
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