Posted by Editoress on 08/9/08
Michael Barry was exactly right when he said at training on Thursday that the men's race would be decided by attrition. Spain's Sammy Sanchez proved to be the rider who could manage the conditions the best, as he outkicked the five riders who remained at the front to win the first cycling gold medal of the Beijing Games. Davide Rebellin (Italy) took second as a 37th birthday present, and Fabian Cancellara, the one man Swiss team, the bronze. Barry had the highest North American result with a fine ninth place.
The 245 kilometre race was 'supposed' to start when the riders reached the Badaling circuit at the Great Wall, after an 80 kilometre run north from Beijing. The 20 kilometre circuit, with its 12 kilometres of climbing each lap, would gradually whittle down the field, but the first selection actually took place at 65 kilometres, when a group of 26 went clear.
Two riders - Horacio Gallardo (Bolivia) and Patricio Almonacid (Chile) - actually broke away in the first two kilometres, building a lead of over 15 minutes by the circuit, but were quickly reeled in and spat out the back when the climbing started.
According to Canada's Ryder Hesjedal, it was Jens Voigt who started the move. "It just kind of happened. I was staying at the front, cruising, and Jens was trying a couple of things. He's always pretty good for a break, so I stayed attentive. All of a sudden, it snapped, and we looked around and saw the gap and started to roll. It looked good for a while, but there was a lot of pressure from behind, and they began to come back. But it turned out to be a perfect race for our team."
The group contained riders from all the top nations except the U.S. - Hesjedal, Voigt, Carlos Sastre (Spain), Bert Grabsch (Germany), Andriy Grivko (Ukraine), Marzio Bruseghin (Italy), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Belarus), RÃƒÂ©mi Pauriol (France), Gatis Smukulis (Latvia), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Belgium), Jonathan Bellis (Great Britain), Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic), Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg), Murilo Fischer (Brazil), Simon Gerrans (Australia), Matija Kvasina (Croatia), Radoslav Rogina (Croatia), Jan Valach (Slovakia), Petr Bencik (Czech Republic), Dainius Kairelis (Lithuania), Borut Bozic (Slovenia), Tadej Valjavec (Slovenia), Andrey Mizourov (Kazakhstan), Ruslan Podgornyy (Ukraine) and Stef Clement (Netherlands).
At the start of the circuits, the gap to the peloton was 1:20, and crept up to nearly five minutes by lap three, before pressure from the Americans began to bring the group back. However, the group had done its job, by allowing the top riders from numerous teams the opportunity to sit in inside the peloton, and leave the chasing to others.
"The start was pretty much as expected, but Ryder's group going away was unpredicted. But it put us in a good spot behind, because all we had to do was follow. The U.S. had to chase, and without Ryder there, for sure they would have wanted us to help."
As the front group and the peloton splintered in the surges happening on the climb, the Canadians played a smart game, with Hesjedal sitting in the lead group, and Barry and Svein Tuft following moves behind.
"The attacks were happening at the bottom of the climb," explained Barry. "I just waited, and we got up to the second group. Then I went across (to the front) with Bettini and Cancellara. The group wasn't working well, and everyone started attacking, which split it up further."
On the final lap, Andy Schleck (Luxembourg) made a series of attacks that took four riders clear with him: Davide Rebellin (Italy), Sanchez, Michael Rogers (Australia) and Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia). Schleck continued to be aggressive, and whittled it down to three, dropping Rogers and Kolobnev by the top of the climb.
The race looked to be set, with the three at the front just having to battle over the colour of their respective medals. Behind, Rogers and Kolobnev were at 15 seconds but could not close the gap, while the remaining chasers - Barry, Cancellara, Santiago Botero (Colombia), Mario Aerts (Belgium), Robert Gesink (Netherlands), Levi Leipheimer (USA), Chris Anker Sorensen (Denmark), Alejandro Valverde (Spain), Jerome Pineau (France), Cadel Evans (Australia), Przemyslaw Niemec (Poland), Christian Vande Velde (USA) and defending champion Paolo Bettini (Italy) - were at 40 seconds.
But then Cancellara launched one of the explosive efforts he is known for on the downhill, sweeping up Rogers and Kolobnev on his way to streaking across to the front trio as they entered the final kilometre.
"It was a typical Cancellara move," commented Barry. "I was at the back of the group and he was in the middle; he puts out about a 1000 watts at those times, and there's not much chance unless you are right on his wheel."
Kolobnev led out the uphill sprint at 150 metres, but it was really no contest as Sanchez and Rebellin swept by to take first and second, while Cancellara threw his bike for bronze.
Sanchez: "It's like a dream, I still can't believe that I won the gold medal; it is something out of this world. This has been a great year for Spanish sport (Football, tennis, Sastre's Tour win), and it is fair to say that this is a golden age for sport in my country."
"Yes, I'm surprised, but at the same time I am not surprised. There were lots of favourites today, like Bettini and Valverde, but I knew that I was in good shape after my seventh at the Tour. I think we performed very well as a team, and our captain (Sastre) kept us focussed. I was most concerned about the weather, because it was very hot and very humid, and dehydration was a big concern."
Cancellara: "When I looked around the race, I could see it was a lottery who would win, but Spain rode the best as a team, they really sacrificed to take the gold medal. For me it was not easy, all I could do was follow. I told my small team - myself - that I would follow the big countries, like Spain and Italy. I had to risk it all in one attack, and it was successful. I did the right race, everything I did was right. It is something special, to ride alone and finish with the bronze medal, and I think that it shows that I am good, and look very good for the time trial."
Hesjedal and Tuft rolled in with the remnants of the field, to finish 56th and 59th.
"My goal was to be in the final, and go for a medal," stated Barry. "I'm happy with the result, because I raced the best I could. I think we represented Canada really well. Svein did a tremendous job, even at the end he was getting bottles and getting me into position. This is the best team we could bring to the Games."
Tuft was equally pumped about being in the race and contributing to the top-10 finish of Barry. "It was pretty rad being there. It is really cool for me to be part of this team, to ride with Ryder and Michael. It was amazing to be racing up that crazy climb, and to have the Great Wall right there. This race shows why they are our top guys. I was content to be able to do my best to help the guys, and it was impressive to see the top riders still throwing down out there after five and a half hours of racing."
"We were looking at Michael to conserve energy, and having Ryder in the break took the pressure off us. For myself, the plan was to cover a few moves, but really just support the guys as long as I could."
Both Hesjedal and Tuft are now looking to the time trial next Wednesday - two laps of the circuit they just raced on.
Hesjedal: "I'm definitely looking forward to the time trial. I'm pretty motivated to be doing a second race here at the Olympics. I don't have a position goal, I just want to do the best race that I can."
Tuft: "I'm pretty psyched. It's a hard, hard course, and I'm motivated because I do better on those type of circuits."
|Men's Road Race - 245km|
|1 Samuel Sanchez (Spain)||6:23:49|
|2 Davide Rebellin (Italy)|
|3 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)|
|4 Alexander Kolobnev (Russia)|
|5 Andy Schleck (Luxembourg)|
|6 Michael Rogers (Australia)||all s.t.|
|7 Santiago Botero (Colombia)||0:12|
|8 Mario Aerts (Belgium)||s.t.|
|9 Michael Barry (Canada)||0:16|
|10 Robert Gesink (Netherlands)||0:18|
|11 Levi Leipheimer (United States)||0:20|
|12 Chris Anker Soerensen (Denmark)||0:22|
|13 Alejandro Valverde (Spain)|
|14 Jerome Pineau (France)|
|15 Cadel Evans (Australia)|
|16 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Poland)||all s.t.|
|17 Christian Vandevelde (United States)||0:30|
|18 Paolo Bettini (Italy)||0:35|
|19 Vladimir Karpets (Russia)||1:10|
|20 Murilo Fischer (Brazil)||2:28|
|21 Fabian Wegmann (Germany)|
|22 Erik Hoffmann (Namibia)|
|23 Christian Pfannberger (Austria)|
|24 Gustav Larsson (Sweden)|
|25 Nicki Soerensen (Denmark)|
|26 Radoslav Rogina (Croatia)|
|27 John Augustyn (South Africa)|
|28 Nuno Ribeiro (Portugal)|
|29 Ignatas Konovalovas (Lithuania)|
|30 Jackson Jesus Rodriguez Ortiz (Venezuela)|
|31 Matthew Lloyd (Australia)|
|32 Kurt Asle Arvesen (Norway)|
|33 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Belarus)|
|34 Remi Pauriol (France)|
|35 Tadej Valjavec (Slovenia)|
|36 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine)|
|37 Simon Gerrans (Australia)||all s.t.|
|38 Thomas Lovkvist (Sweden)||2:36|
|39 Thomas Rohregger (Austria)|
|40 George Hincapie (United States)||both s.t.|
|41 Jose Serpa (Colombia)||2:38|
|42 Johan Vansummeren (Belgium)|
|43 Frank Schleck (Luxembourg)|
|44 Andrey Mizurov (Kazakhstan)||all s.t.|
|45 Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic)||2:46|
|46 Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg)||2:51|
|47 Moises Aldape Chavez (Mexico)||4:19|
|48 Rein Taaramae (Estonia)||7:00|
|49 Carlos Sastre (Spain)||7:17|
|50 Franco Pellizotti (Italy)|
|51 Sergey Lagutin (Uzbekistan)||both s.t.|
|52 Hossein Askari (IranIran)||10:33|
|53 Ruslan Pidgornyy (Ukraine)||s.t.|
|54 Julian Dean (New Zealand)||10:37|
|55 Jacek Tadeusz Morajko (Poland)|
|56 Ryder Hesjedal (Canada)|
|57 Matija Kvasina (Croatia)|
|58 Marcus Ljungqvist (Sweden)|
|59 Svein Tuft (Canada)|
|60 Denis Menshov (Russia)|
|61 Jure Golcer (Slovenia)|
|62 Jan Valach (Slovakia)|
|63 Marzio Bruseghin (Italy)|
|64 Nicholas Roche (Ireland)|
|65 Laurens Ten Dam (Netherlands)||all s.t.|
|66 Peter Kusztor (Hungary)||11:55|
|67 Ivan Stevic (SerbiaSerbia)||s.t.|
|68 Gatis Smukulis (LatviaLatvia)||12:59|
|69 Tanel Kangert (Estonia)|
|70 Gonzalo Garrido (ChileChile)|
|71 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway)||all s.t.|
|72 Andre Cardoso (Portugal)||15:53|
|73 Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Belarus)|
|74 Dainius Kairelis (Lithuania)|
|75 Petr Bencik (Czech Republic)|
|76 Alexandr Pliuschin (Rep. of Moldova)|
|77 Denys Kostyuk (Ukraine)|
|78 Sergey Ivanov (Russia)|
|79 Ghader Mizbani (IranIran)|
|80 David George (South Africa)|
|81 Philip Deignan (Ireland)|
|82 Glen Chadwick (New Zealand)||all s.t.|
|83 Aliaksandr Usau (Belarus)||26:10|
|84 Tomasz Marczynski (Poland)|
|85 Nebojsa Jovanovic (SerbiaSerbia)||both s.t.|
|86 Takashi Miyazawa (JapanJapan)||31:35|
|87 Rafaa Chtioui (TunisiaTunisia)||39:15|
|88 Sungbaek Park (KoreaKorea)||s.t.|
|89 Kin San Wu (Hong Kong,China)||42:08|
|90 Luciano Pagliarini Mendonca (Brazil)||44:38|
|DNF Alberto Contador (Spain)|
|DNF Simon Spilak (Slovenia)|
|DNF Jens Voigt (Germany)|
|DNF Pierrick Fedrigo (France)|
|DNF Cyril Dessel (France)|
|DNF Pierre Rolland (France)|
|DNF Rigoberto Uran (Colombia)|
|DNF Ben Swift (Great Britain)|
|DNF Stef Clement (Netherlands)|
|DNF Bert Grabsch (Germany)|
|DNF Vincenzo Nibali (Italy)|
|DNF Lars Petter Nordhaus (Norway)|
|DNF Vladimir Miholjevic (Croatia)|
|DNF Christophe Brandt (Belgium)|
|DNF Stefan Schumacher (Germany)|
|DNF Brian Bach Vandborg (Denmark)|
|DNF Jurgen van den Broeck (Belgium)|
|DNF Timothy Gudsell (New Zealand)|
|DNF Patricio Almonacid (ChileChile)|
|DNF Evgeniy Gerganov (Bulgaria)|
|DNF Borut Bozic (Slovenia)|
|DNF Stuart O'grady (Australia)|
|DNF Maxim Iglinskiy (Kazakhstan)|
|DNF Gabriel Rasch (Norway)|
|DNF Fumiyuki Beppu (JapanJapan)|
|DNF Henry Raabe (Costa Rica)|
|DNF Mehdi Sohrabi (IranIran)|
|DNF Mario Contreras (El Salvador)|
|DNF Andriy Grivko (Ukraine)|
|DNF Vladimir Efimkin (Russia)|
|DNF Jason Mccartney (United States)|
|DNF Roger Hammond (Great Britain)|
|DNF Karsten Kroon (Netherlands)|
|DNF Oscar Freire (Spain)|
|DNF Stephen Cummings (Great Britain)|
|DNF Maxime Monfort (Belgium)|
|DNF Matej Jurco (Slovakia)|
|DNF Roman Bronis (Slovakia)|
|DNF Hichem Chabane (Algeria)|
|DNF Juan Jose Haedo (Argentina)|
|DNF Liang Zhang (ChinaChina)|
|DNF Ahmed Belgasem (Libyan AJ)|
|DNF Gerald Michael Ciolek (Germany)|
|DNF Raivis Belohvosciks (LatviaLatvia)|
|DNF Jonathan Bellis (Great Britain)|
|DNF Horacio Gallardo (Bolivia)|
|DNF Laszlo Bodrogi (Hungary)|
|DNF Daniel Petrov (Bulgaria)|
|DNF Matias Medici (Argentina)|
|DNF Niki Terpstra (Netherlands)|
|DNF Alejandro Borrajo (Argentina)|
|DNF Robert Hunter (South Africa)|
|DNF David Zabriskie (United States)|
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