Men’s Road Race: Rio 2016 Olympic Games

“For athletes, the Olympics are the ultimate test of their worth.Mary Lou Retton, 5x Olympic medal American gymnast.

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The Olympics. The most prestigious sporting event due to its emergence every 4 years, the 2016 Games are this year set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The men’s road race was held during the 1st day, meaning most (if not all) were unable to attend the Olympic opening ceremony.

It was by no means a simple race. The 235.7km route featured flat sections, cobbles, climbs combined with treacherous descents, cross-winds and even a controlled explosion during the race at the finish line. It was on the descents where many had fallen, taking gold medal hopes out of contention, broken bones and fractures aplenty. In the end, Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium) took the win, with Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark) taking silver alongside bronze medal winner Rafal Majka (Poland).

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A usual sight in cycling, Tony Martin was seen controlling the peloton from the front, yet this time it was for his German team rather than Etixx. With no outright leader pegged out of Martin, Geschke, Levy and Buchmann, if they were pushing for a medal it would be likely they’d aim for a man in a late breakaway. This wouldn’t be Levy – who didn’t start. His focus is on the track. Soon after though, Geschke took over from Martin and his fast pace caused an early split. Pantano (Columbia – who had only been called up after Quintana dropped out just after the Tour while Pantano had won stage 15), Bystrom (Norway), Kwiatkowski (Poland), Albasini (Switzerland), and Kochetkov (Russia – only one of two representing) went with him and created a 54 second lead. Dumoulin (Netherlands) abandoned after just 10km, his focus on the TT on Wednesday.

When the riders hit the cobbles, the problems began. The first crash of the day occurred with Örken (Turkey), Richie Porte (Australia) suffered a mechanical and Wellens (Belgium) had to chase to get back to the bunch. This then elongated as the cross-winds hit riders on the flat section with 184km to go. During the second lap, the cobbles provided more issues for Mollema (Netherlands), Albasini (Switzerland) and winner Van Avermaet. Still on the front of the peloton were Stannard (Great Britain), De Marchi (Italy) and Castorviejo (Spain), who had been constantly cutting down the time to the break for numerous kilometres. Stannard is a man who can handle the cobbles with ease, coming 3rd in Paris-Roubaix this year and winning against 4 Etixx riders to take the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad win in 2015 and previously in 2014. Porte again had an issue with his bike and the cobbles, while the Czech Republic drove hard at the front. The peloton soon split and Thomas (Great Britain), Froome (GB), Nibali (Italy), Gilbert (Belgium), Van Avermaet and Phinney (USA) followed Cummings (GB) on the front while Poels (Netherlands) was dropped behind. He managed to cling onto the back of the group yet with just under 80km to go, was out of contention. Albasini from the break had also cracked and Pantano later followed. Finally, Cummings peeled off the front, his effort shown on his face while behind, Poels had crashed. It just wasn’t to be for one of the pre-race favourites.

While Geschke was dropped from the break with 70km to go, Kochetkov attacked. Boasson Hagen (Norway) and Gilbert were dropped from the peloton while Caruso (Italy) attacked from there and took Thomas and Van Avermaet with him. (Are you still with us?) With 69km to go, Henao attacked from the peloton for Columbia. They have a strong team at the Olympics, with Chaves, Uran, Lopez and Pantano alongside him. Pantano loves a breakaway, as seen in the Tour de France, and Chavez always looks like he just loves anything, really. Having held the pink jersey in the Giro then finished 2nd overall, Chaves has had an impressive year riding for GreenEDGE. (Fine, BikeExchange.)

45km to go and Kwiatkowski was brought back. The chasing group too, while the peloton sat 30 seconds behind the leaders. Plenty of riders started to go backwards at this point, with Cancellara (Switzerland) and Roche (Ireland) the next to suffer during the Rio course. While Cancellara is retiring at the end of this season (sad news for all), Roche has just signed a contract from Team Sky to BMC, where he will be reunited with ex-teammate Richie Porte. Kruijswijk had cracked as well, the last hope for the Netherlands gone. Dumoulin abandoned, Poels was suffering and Mollema had already used a lot of energy nearer the start with mechanicals and then not making too big an impact throughout the rest of the course.

The Vista Chinesa descents were highlighted pre-race as being too treacherous. It was on these that many crashed, Oliveria (Portugal) being the first. He was then followed by Richie Porte, who fractured his right scapular after a mechanical interrupted season. Continuous attacks followed as the peloton looked to distance more riders. With 20km to go, a group of Thomas (Great Britain), Van Avermaet (Belgium), Henao (Columbia), Fuglsang (Denmark), Aru (Italy), Nibali (Italy), Zeits (Kazakhstan), Majka (Poland), Meintjes (South Africa) and Rodriguez (Spain) formed. Behind, Alaphilippe (France) dug hard, cycled past the Froome group (Bardet, Yates), joined Kangert (Estonia), dropped Kangert and carried on to Van Avermaet. Ahead, Nibali attacked with Henao and Majka later joined them.

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Nibali

With 12km to go until the finish, both Nibali and Henao crashed on the descent. Nibali had broken his collarbone while Henao suffered a fractured iliac crest and they were passed by Majka then the chasing group. While the news of another crash was unfortunately unsurprising, it was surprising that it was Nibali. Noted as a great descender, he was looking to take the gold medal at Rio and had previously been a favourite. Geraint Thomas then crashed out. He sat to the side of the road, dejected as his chance of a medal had gone. With 6km to go, Majka led the race by 23 seconds. Both Van Avermaet and Fuglsang tried to attack and distance each other to bridge to Majka while Alaphilippe closed them down.

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With 1km to go, Majka had been caught yet the trio worked together this time. 500m and Fuglsang led them out towards the final sprint. Van Avermaet took the win ahead of him, while Majka had nothing left to give. Alaphilippe crossed the line 4th behind them.

The men’s Olympic road race results:

1. Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium) 06:10:05
2. Jacob Fuglsang (Denmark)
3. Rafal Majka (Poland) 00:00:05
4. Julian Alaphilippe (France) 00:00:22
5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain)
6. Fabio Aru (Italy)
7. Louis Meintjes (Republic of South Africa)
8. Andrey Zeits (Kazakhstan) 00:00:25
9. Tanel Kangert (Estonia) 00:01:47
10. Rui Costa (Portugal) 00:02:29
11. Geraint Thomas (Great Britain)
12. Chris Froome (Great Britain) 00:02:58
13. Daniel Martin (Ireland)
14. Emanuel Buchmann (Germany)
15. Adam Yates (Great Britain) 00:03:30
16. Brent Bookwalter (United States of America) 00:03:31
17. Bauke Mollema (Netherlands)
18. Kristijan Durasek (Croatia)
19. Sebastien Reichenbach (Switzerland)
20. Frank Schleck (Luxembourg)

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  1. Esteban Chaves (Colombia)
  2. Serge Pauwels (Belgium)
  3. Alexis Vuillermoz (France)
  4. Romain Bardet (France)
  5. Simon Clarke (Australia)
  6. Primoz Roglic (Slovenia)
  7. Yukiya Arashiro (Japan)
  8. Daryl Impey (South Africa)
  9. Nicolas Roche (Ireland)
  10. Alejandro Valverde (Spain)
  11. Sergey Chernetsky (Russia)
  12. Christopher Juul-Jensen (Denmark)
  13. George Bennett (New Zealand)
  14. Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland
  15. Ramunas Navardauskas (Lithuania)
  16. Andre Cardoso (Portugal)
  17. Eduardo Sepulveda (Argentina)
  18. Pavel Kochetkov (Russia)
  19. Steven Kruijswijk (Netherlands)
  20. Damiano Caruso (Italy)
  21. Andriy Grivko (Ukraine)
  22. Philippe Gilbert (Belgium)
  23. Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eritrea)
  24. Georg Preidler (Austria)
  25. Patrik Tybor (Slovakia)
  26. Aleksejs Saramotins (Latvia)
  27. Anass Ait el Abdia (Morocco)
  28. Lars Petter Nordhaug (Norway)
  29. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Belarus)
  30. Vegard Laengen (Norway)
  31. Ioannis Tamouridis (Greece)
  32. Jan Polanc (Slovenia)
  33. Jose Mendes (Portugal)
  34. Andrey Amador (Costa Rica)
  35. Michael Woods (Canada)
  36. Michal Golas (Poland)
  37. Simon Spilak (Slovenia)
  38. Petr Vakoc (Czech Republic)
  39. Toms Skujins (Latvia)
  40. Chris Sorensen (Denmark)
  41. Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Kazakhstan)
  42. Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland)
  43. Alessandro De Marchi (Italy)

Finished yet ‘out of time limit’: Murilo Fischer (Brazil) and Ignatas Konovalovas (Lithuania).

DNF:

  • Abderrahmane Mansouri (Algeria)
  • Youcef Reguigui (Algeria)
  • Daniel Diaz (Argentina)
  • Maximiliano Richeze (Argentina)
  • Scott Bowden (Australia)
  • Stefan Denifl (Austria)
  • Rohan Dennis (Australia)
  • Richie Porte (Australia)
  • Maxim Averin (Azerbaijan)
  • Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus)
  • Laurens De Plus (Belgium)
  • Tim Wellens (Belgium)
  • Oscar Soliz (Bolivia)
  • Kleber Ramos (Brazil)
  • Steve Cummings (Britain)
  • Ian Stannard (Britain)
  • Stefan Hristov (Bulgaria)
  • Antoine Duchesne (Canada)
  • Hugo Houle (Canada)
  • Jose Luis Rodriguez (Chile)
  • Miguel Angel Lopez (Colombia)
  • Sergio Henao (Colombia)
  • Jarlinson Pantano (Colombia)
  • Rigoberto Uran (Colombia)
  • Matija Kvasina (Croatia)
  • Jan Barta (Czech Republic)
  • Leopold Koenig (Czech Republic)
  • Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic)
  • Diego Milan (Dominican Republic)
  • Byron Guama (Ecuador)
  • Rein Taaramaee (Estonia)
  • Tsgabu Grmay (Ethiopia)
  • Warren Barguil (France)
  • Simon Geschke (Germany)
  • Maximilian Levy (Germany)
  • Tony Martin (Germany)
  • Manuel Rodas (Guatemala)
  • Cheung King Lok (Hong Kong, China)
  • Arvin Goodarzi (Iran)
  • Ghader Mizbani (Iran)
  • Mirsamad Pourseyedigolakhour (Iran)
  • Vincenzo Nibali (Italy)
  • Diego Rosa (Italy)
  • Kohei Uchima (Japan)
  • Seo Joon-Yong (Korea)
  • Kim Ok-Cheol (Korea)
  • Qendrim Guri (Kosovo)
  • Ariya Pounsavath (Laos)
  • Luis Enrique Lemus (Mexico)
  • Soufiane Haddi (Morocco)
  • Mouhssine Lahsaini (Morocco)
  • Dan Craven (Namibia)
  • Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands)
  • Wout Poels (Netherlands)
  • Zac Williams (New Zealand)
  • Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway)
  • Sven Erik Bystrom (Norway)
  • Maciej Bodnar (Poland)
  • Nelson Oliveira (Portugal)
  • Brian Babilonia (Puerto Rico)
  • Serghei Tvetcov (Romania)
  • Alexey Kurbatov (Russia)
  • Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwanda)
  • Ivan Stevic (Serbia)
  • Matej Mohoric (Slovenia)
  • Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain)
  • Imanol Erviti (Spain)
  • Jon Izagirre (Spain)
  • Michael Albasini (Switzerland)
  • Steve Morabito (Switzerland)
  • Ali Nouisri (Tunisia)
  • Onur Balkan (Turkey)
  • Ahmet Örken (Turkey)
  • Andriy Khripta (Ukraine)
  • Denys Kostyuk (Ukraine)
  • Yousif Mirza (United Arab Emirates)
  • Taylor Phinney (U.S.)
  • Yonathan Monsalve (Venezuela)
  • Miguel Ubeto (Venezuela)
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