Vinokourov Wins Olympic Road Race in London
Alexander Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) is the Olympic road race champion.
Alexander Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) is the Olympic road race champion. Vino jumped into the day's big break, jumped away from it, and took a two-up sprint to win the gold medal in the 250-km Olympic road race in London, England in 5:45:57. Rigoberto Uran (Colombia) took the silver medal, and Alexander Kristoff (Norway) outsprinted Taylor Phinney (United States) for the bronze.
An early break dislodged itself from the group. It consisted of Jurgen Roelandts (Belgium), Marco Pinotti (Italy), Fumiyuki Beppu (Japan), Denis Menchov (Russia), Stuart O'Grady (Australia), Tim Duggan (United States), Lieuwe Westra (Netherlands), Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain), Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia), Michael Schar (Switzerland), Kristoff, and Sungbaek Park (South Korea). As expected, Great Britain led the chase, but the break's advantage grew to more than three minutes at 30 km and to 4:12 at 50 km.
Belarus sent Vasily Kiriyienka to help the British, who attempted to persuade the Germans and the French, who were unrepresented in the break, to chase. The Germans and the French refused.
On the first ascent of Box Hill, a crash occurred. Riders from Iran, Guatemala, and Lithuania went down, as did Francisco Ventoso (Spain). All rejoined the peloton, however. At the summit, the break led the bunch by 5:37.
On the third ascent of Box Hill, Australia sent Michael Rogers to bridge up to the break. The next time up the climb, Rogers was reeled in, but then Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) attacked. Robert Gesink (Netherlands), Martin Elminger (Switzerland), and Philippe Gilbert and Greg van Avermaet (both from Belgium) joined him. Behind, Ian Stannard and Christopher Froome chased for Great Britain. At the top of the climb, the Nibali group led the peloton by 0:15. On the descent, other riders joined the move.
On the fifth climb of Box Hill, Nibali and Gilbert attacked. Lars Boom and Niki Terpstra (both from the Netherlands), Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark), Sylvain Chavanel (France), Gregory Rast (Switzerland), Andriy Grivko (Ukraine), Luca Paolini (Italy), Jack Bauer (New Zealand), and Taylor Phinney (United States) joined them. At the summit, the break led the Nibali group by 1:15 and the bunch by 2:00.
At the base of the next-to-last climb of Box Hill, the break led the chasers by 0:34 and the peloton by 0:54. Gilbert attacked. His companions brought him back, but the break and the chase group merged with 70 km remaining. The new lead group led the field by 0:45, and other riders bridged up to the move.
Gilbert attacked again. At the top of the last ascent of Box Hill, the Belgian led the chasers by 0:43 and the British-led bunch by 1:21. The Spaniards led the chase group, which trailed Gilbert by 0:59 with 40 km left. Behind, the Germans joined the British at the front, but the bunch made no inroads in the chase group's advantage.
The chase group consisted of 32 riders. This group reeled in Gilbert. The Swiss had four riders, the Spaniards three, and the United States two. These three teams worked to keep the pace high. Behind, the Australians joined the British and the Germans, but with 25 km left, the leaders led the peloton by 1:05. Obviously, the medalists would come from the lead group.
Lars Petter Nordhaug (Norway) attacked, but Tejay van Garderen (United States) brought him back. Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) misjudged a turn and crashed into the barriers, injuring his collarbone, reducing the lead group to 15 riders, and imperilling his defense of his gold medal in the Olympic men's time trial on Wednesday.
Spain and the United States led the lead group. With 10 km left, the leaders led the peloton by 0:56.
Vinokourov and Uran bolted away from their companions. The rest of the lead group debated who should chase. While they debated, Vino and Uran rode. The pair collaborated well until the last km, when they began to play cat and mouse. With 400 m left, Uran led the pair. With 200 m to go, Uran looked left, and Vinokourov burst past the Colombian on the right to win. Eight seconds later, Kristoff led the chasers home to take bronze.
Because of his positive test for blood doping at the 2007 Tour de France and his subsequent ban, Vinokourov is a somewhat controversial gold medalist. However, he insisted that he is now riding clean and that 2007 is a closed book. The Kazakh said, "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."
Vinokourov might spin in Wednesday's Olympic time trial, but other riders will not. Who will win? Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain)? Tony Martin (Germany)? Taylor Phinney (United States)? Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!