SAN DIEGO, July 28, 2012 – Alexandre Vinokourov took an unexpected win in the men’s road race for Kazahkstan, perhaps the most satisfying victory of his long cycling career. The 39-year-old rider first rode in the 1996 Games in Atlanta, and won a silver medal in Sydney in 2000.
It was a long tough road to Vino’s win today. He was suspended for doping after the 2007 Tour de France and retired, but came back to prove he could ride clean. In 2011, he crashed out of the Tour de France with serious injuries including a broken leg. He still has a metal plate in his femur. He retired again, only to be drawn back to the sport to try to go out on top.
Vino’s decision to stay in cycling for one more year was rewarded. From a breakaway group that managed to stay away from the peloton for the entire race, he jumped away with Colombian rider Rigoberto Uran and dueled with him to the finish line. The 25-year-old Uran took silver. Norway’s Alexandr Kristoff took the bronze in a sprint among the remaining breakaway group.
Vinokourov said the gold medal is a nice finish to his career. “I didn’t win any stages of the Tour (which he finished, a major accomplishment) but today the dream has come true,” Vinokourov said. He said he will still race in the time trial on Wednesday, but would “just spin” and enjoy the experience. “I have what I have wanted. I have the gold medal and I can envision my retirement.”
“After so many crashes, returning to cycling was difficult for me. I still have a metal plate in my femur, so it was not easy. I was still hoping for a good result. My family and my children were behind me the entire time.”
It was a major disappointment for the sprinters, especially for Britain and its fans who hoped to see world champion Mark Cavendish race at the line for gold. The British team did most of the work leading the peloton throughout the race, bringing the breakaway group back to within one minute. But today’s 250K stage coming just six days after the finish of the Tour de France took its toll, and the team members all cracked one by one.
Cavendish said his teammates gave it all they had, but they simply had no gas left in the tank.
Other teams tried but failed to keep the pace up and catch the breakaway group. This gave Vino and Uran their chance, and they made the best of it,
Missing on the medal list at the end: Swiss road champion Fabian Cancellara, who wore the yellow jersey for the first week at this year’s Tour de France. With six miles left, Cancellara swung too wide on a turn and had to lay his bike down going headfirst into a barriers. He suffered scrapes to his arm and sought attention from the doctor’s race car. Cancellara limped across the finish line behind the main peloton and was emotional about his fate.
Cancellara was taken to the medical facility in the Olympic Village for x-rays. He broke his collarbone in four places in April, and still has pins holding it together. He will need to determine whether he is healthy enough to regroup for competition in his specialty, the time trial.
Cyclists were in the saddle for five hours and 45 minutes today on a lengthy course of nine circuits, taking the competitors from London out around the Surrey countryside and back, finishing at Buckingham Palace. Prince Charles started the race, and over one million spectators enjoyed the race along the route.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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