Published on Jul 28, 2012
london 2012 olympic opening medal win vino wins first olympic gold medal
london 2012 olympic cycling road race mens results
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.