A bit of a disaster today – starting favourite and over hyped was always going to prove a curse. All the teams left the Brits to chase down the pack of 22 escapees and sadly 4 men can’t tow a pelaton and catch up with a group of 22 elite riders. Germany decided to help at the last but by then it was too late …. The group of escapees worked together well and as they were about to sit up and play for position Vinokourov shot off the front on the left and the Colombian diced through on the right – no one chased and pretty soon gold and silver were sorted.
Vinokourov and Rigoberto Uran (Colombia) had escaped from a larger breakaway in the final kilometres of the 250-kilometre race around London and Surrey. Vinokourov opened up his sprint in the final 500 metres as Uran appeared to look the other way and miss the move.
The young Colombian had to settle for silver, with Alexander Kristoff sprinting at the head of the large 30-rider chase group to claim bronze for Norway.
Cavendish came home in the main bunch 40 seconds behind the leaders after Great Britain failed to bring back the escapees on the journey back from Box Hill to The Mall.
A pre-race favourites and with such strong home support, it was Great Britain’s race to lose. Cavendish, Ian Stannard, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and David Millar had controlled the day’s events admirably on the nine ascents of Box Hill, pegging back the time advantage of an earlier 12-rider escape group, an attack by a group containing Vincenoz Nibali (Italy) and a lengthy solo move by Philippe Gibert (Belgium). But the effort took its toll.
A large group, led by Spain and Switzerland, launched at attack on the final Box Hill circuit. With no other teams willing to assist in the chase, Great Britain looked tired and isolated on the road back to London as the lead group forged ahead.
Cavendish’s hopes of an Olympic medal once again evaporated, and he crossed the line in London shaking his head in disappointment.
“The Germans came a bit too late and the other teams seemed to be more content that they wouldn’t win as long as we didn’t win. That’s kind of how it goes,” Cavendish told BBC Radio Five Live after the race.
“I can be proud of how the lads rode today. I’m proud of my country because there was incredible support. The guys are sat there, they are spent. They have got nothing left in the tank. It’s incredible to see what they gave for the cause.”
There were several notable casualties during the race, not least Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) who crashed out after misjudging a corner whilst in the lead group. He appeared to have injured his shoulder, throwing some doubt on his participation in the time trial on Wednesday.
Tom Boonen (Belgium) also had his chances dashed with a badly-timed puncture in the final 20 kilometres. A wheel change meant he lost contact with the peloton.
Vinokourov will be seen by many as a controversial Olympic champion, after he failed an anti-doping control for homologous blood transfusion at the 2007 Tour de France and was ejected from the race.
The 38-year-old has always strenuously denied any wrong-doing and returned to cycling in 2009 after a two-year suspension.
Earlier this year, Vinokourov announced that this would be his last season as a professional rider.
Grand Day Out
The result may not have been what many British fans were hoping for, but the support for British riders along the route was unprecedented.
UCI president Pat McQuaid’s estimate that one million spectators would turn out to watch the race cannot have been far off, as crowds lined every street and road on the entire route.
It was once again proof that cycling is riding on a high in Britain after this year’s Tour de France success.