'Spartacus' Cancellara reclaims ITT gold

2016-08-10 18:37
Chris Froome (Getty Images)

Rio de Janeiro - Fabian Cancellara capped his remarkable career with his second Olympic gold medal on Wednesday, the retiring Swiss star powering over the hilly, rain-slicked course at the Rio Games to deny favourite Tom Dumoulin and British rival Chris Froome.

Cancellara looked like the same youngster who dominated the 2008 Beijing Games, finishing in a time of 1 hour, 12 minutes, 15.42 seconds. Dumoulin finished 47 seconds back to take silver, despite breaking his hand during the Tour de France, while Froome had to settle for bronze.

Froome was trying to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Bradley Wiggins, who won the Tour in 2012 before capturing time trial gold at the London Games. But he was never able to match the pace of Cancellara, falling behind at the first check-point and finishing 1:02 behind him.

Cancellara began weeping the moment Froome, the last rider of the day, crossed the finish line. He announced more than a year ago that this would be his final season as a cyclist.

Jonathan Castroviejo of Spain was fourth and Rohan Dennis of Australia was fifth, left to rue the bike change that he needed to make 56 kilometres into the race. The change was calm and quick, but the few seconds he lost likely cost him the bronze medal.

Dennis was just 23 seconds behind Dumoulin and nine seconds behind Froome.

All of them paraded over to congratulate the 35-year-old Cancellara, long one of the sport's most popular riders, who quit the Tour early last month to save himself for his final Olympics.

He blistered to a big lead by the first check point, tucked into the familiar aero position that has served him so well. The big workhorse hardly lost a second while churning up the Grumari and Grota Funda climbs, then tucked back into his time-trial position and lit off for the finish line.

Cancellara rolled through as fans pounded the barricades lining the road.

The man nicknamed "Spartacus" won his third Olympic medal - the two time trial golds and a silver in the Beijing Olympics road race. And he will leave the quadrennial gathering much more satisfied than he did four years ago, when he crashed out of the leading group late in the London road race.

He painfully tried to defend his time trial gold days later but finished seventh.

Dumoulin and Froome were considered the favourites heading into the race, and the Dutchman didn't look to be hamstrung by his ailing hand. But he also didn't seem to have Cancellara's power, especially on the flats, but still managed to give the Netherlands its first Olympic men's time trial medal.

As for Froome, the last two months appeared finally to catch up to the British star.

His strong performance in the Tour time trials made him a trendy pick in Rio, but the work he put in to win his third yellow jersey - not to mention the gruelling Olympic road race on Saturday - left him drained of energy, and he could only managed to slip onto the bottom step of the podium.

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