The pre-race hype was all about the Brits — Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and multiple stage winner Mark Cavendish — taking the first gold medal at the 2012 Olympics.
At the finish of the Olympic road race on their home turf in London, however, it was a 38-year-old flash from the past who was rolling across the finish line for the Gold.
Long-time veteran Alexander Vinokourov outfoxed everyone, and with a little luck, won the gold medal for Kazakhstan on Saturday.
He and Rigoberto Uran (Colombia) broke away from the lead group with just a few kilometers left in the race. Working together, they maintained their lead toward the finish. With the finish in sight, Uran turned around momentarily to find Vinokourov, but the wily Kazakh already was sprinting past him.
Norway’s Alexander Kristoff finished in the bronze at the front of the chase group, followed by USA’s Taylor Phinney by one second.
The group that led the peloton by about a minute as the race neared an end also contained Tejay Van Garderen, and Timothy Duggan. They must have faded at the finish, however. See below.
The main peloton, containing Wiggins and Cavendish, followed.
Frankly, many won’t be happy with Vinokourov as the gold medal winner due to his checkered history in cycling.
Vinokourov was ranked as an outside contender for the Tour de France during the later Lance Armstrong years. Leading his own team, Astana, in 2007, Vino was thrown out of the Tour for doping. A murky period of suspensions and retirements followed, until he returned midway through the 2009 season.
He broke his leg during the 2011 Tour de France, retired again. A year later, he was back with the Astana team at the 2012 Tour de France, where he finished 31st overall.
As the race developed, Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara emerged as a favorite because he had made the breakaway group and had 3 Swiss riders with him. Coming out of Normandy Park for the last time, Cancellara missed a curve at the front of the group and rode straight into the barricades, taking a few riders with him.
It appeared he injured his right arm or shoulder as he limped to the finish.
Viewing the race
As broadcast channels weren’t covering the race live on the West Coast, I watched the online video stream at NBC’s LiveExtra. The video alone wasn’t very informative at times as there was no commentary, and I wasn’t familiar with many of the jerseys. So I also followed the CyclngNews live text report and comments on Twitter.
The women’s road race starts at noon Sunday in London. That’s 7 a.m. Eastern and 4 a.m. Pacific time.
4. Taylor Phinney
32. Tyler Farrar
87. Timothy Duggan
92. Chris Horner
102. Tejay Van Garderen