Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) won the London 2012 Olympic Games men’s road race on The Mall in London on Saturday after a large escape group kept the peloton at bay, denying British sprinter Mark Cavendish the chance for a medal.

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 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. 

As 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 Vincenzo 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.

Controversial winner
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.

London 2012 men’s road race live coverage: a minute-by-minute account of the race>>

London 2012 Olympic Games, men’s road race: London/Surrey, 250km

1. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) in 5-45-57
2. Rigoberto Uran (Colombia)
3. Alexander Kristoff (Norway) at 8 secs
4. Taylor Phinney (USA)
5. Sergey Lagutin (Uzbekistan)
6. Stuart O’Grady (Australia)
7. Jurgen Roelandts (Belgium)
8. Gregory Rast (Switzerland)
9. Luca Paolini (Italy)
10. Jack Bauer (New Zealand) all same time
29. Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) at 40 secs
94. Ian Stannard (Great Britain) at 50 secs
103. Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) at 1-17
108. David Millar (Great Britain) at 9-19
109. Chris Froome (Great Britain) at 12-27

Mark Cavendish

Ian Stannard chases

Vincenzo Nibali leads an escape group

Philippe Gilbert attacks

Alexandre Vinokourov wins

Rigoberto Uran (silver), Alexandre Vinokourov (gold), Alexander Kristoff (bronze)

London 2012: Live text coverage of cycling events

July 28: Men’s road race

July 29: Women’s road race

London 2012: Latest news

Tickets for Box Hill? You may need another…

Bradley Wiggins’ UKSI Olympic bike

Hoy helicoptered in for opening ceremony

Box Hill closed after local riders give security the slip

Boonen and Gilbert train on Box Hill Olympic circuit

Goss fresh for Olympic Games assault

Trott on top: London 2012

Hoy to be GB flag bearer at London 2012 opening ceremony

Millar: I think about Olympics all the time

Cavendish recognises advantage in missed Tour chances ahead of Olympics

Kenny not Hoy selected for London 2012 sprint

German and French Olympic teams sneak in fourth sprinter

Cavendish: GB’s best bet for Olympic gold

London 2012: Team info

Men’s road race start list

Women’s road race start list

Men’s time trial start list

Women’s time trial start list

Team GB rider profiles

Great Britain track team confirmed

Bronzini leads Italian Olympic cycling team

British Olympic men’s road race team announced

Armitstead and Cooke lead GB women’s road cycling team

London 2012: Event guides

Olympic Games women’s road race: Who will win?

Olympic Games men’s road race: Who will win?

Download detailed Olympic road race route map

London 2012 cycling schedule

London 2012: Reports
To come…

London 2012: Photos

Team GB road race training on Box Hill (July 26)

London 2012: Podcasts

Cycling Weekly podcasts on Soundcloud

London 2012: TV schedule
London 2012 BBC TV cycling coverage schedule
London 2012 Eurosport cycling coverage schedule

  • Marc

    I am surprised that no suspicions have been raised at all about the Vino win. In the Dutch tv coverage and press afterwards there was immediate speculation that this victory was bought. Just replay the last kilometer and see the quick chat, then look at Uran’s really exaggerated look over his wrong shoulder, and moving way out of the way. All too suspicious to me. It was not a proper sprint.

    He has been accused of that before in the Liege Bastogne Liege race in 2010 of course. Allegedly…..

  • Nick

    For all of those bemoaning GB’s tactics and the fact that Vino won, well by far the best GB rider to win from a break would have been….David Millar! He’s won several TdF stages like that and could well have been right up there and would probably have outsprinted Vino and Uran. Would you have celebrated a Millar medal…now come on – be honest!

  • Ken Evans

    Maybe Team GB did too much work too early in the race,
    they could have played poker, and called the bluff of the other teams,
    and got them to chase the first break.

    Box Hill was always the likely point for any serious attacks,
    but by the end of the race Team GB had little energy left to chase.

    As Plan B (not Cav), Millar was the most likely to be up there, with Cancellera, Gilbert, Vino, etc.

    I thought the course was too soft for such a big race,
    2 more times up Box Hills, or a more hilly circuit would have been better.

    Cav doesn’t have the legs for a long and tough race,
    even with the weight loss, he doesn’t have the power to match a Classics star.

  • JM

    The problem with Vino is that he is an unrepentant drugs cheat.

    Team GB naive to think that others would help. Should have put a potential winner in the break. This would have forced other teams to chase.

    The fatal error was not to cover the breaks on the final ascent of Box Hill, but to continue to ride tempo. The Belgians, Spanish and Swiss managed to smuggle three riders each into the final break group. That was fatal to Team GB’s chances.

    What were the Germans and Aussies playing at? No ambition at all.

  • Richard Horner

    Jay the way I understood the team size depended on World Cup points or something. There were few teams that had five members in fact which technically gave teams like GB with five an advantage. Our NZ team for example only qualified for two members not five. Greg Henderson was sick on the day and Jack Bauer finished tenth.

    With the five strong competitors surely they could have controlled the main bunch while one jumped across to the break…….others did. ??

  • Jay CEE

    Interesting to read all the comments but no one has, as yet, mentioned one other issue! That of 5 man teams. With such a number it is always difficult to protect a rider and control a race – two very different issues – but two issues that need to conducted together. With a five man team, if you have a potential sprint winner you effectivly have 4 riders. At least one of those would be ‘spent’ by two thirds distance etc. etc. I agree with the comments impyling that the race should be an individual one. When all is said and done, they don’t award a team gold in the race. Well done to the GB team who did, in my opinion, as well as they could, given the opposition they were clearly riding against.

  • Matt

    Vinokourov maybe an excellent bike rider but there is no way that he, Miller, Valverde to name three should be at the Olympics due to their doping convictions. As others have rightly said, Vino has denigrated cycling in several ways, including retiring cynically to avoid a drugs ban. This was not a good day for the sport in many ways, though hope those lucky enough to be there enjoyed themselves.

  • Mike

    A great win by Vino? What rubbish. The man is an unrepentent cheat. He pretended to retire and his association looked the other way.

    I am not a fan of Millar, he cheated and the rules of the BOA, at that time, excluded him from Plympic selection, so In my mind he should have abided by the rules in place when he cheated.

    Its ok banging on about “Dopers” but I prefer to call them cheats. They had success by cheating an so gained there rewards and big contracts by denying another rider the victory.

  • diwa

    I was very impressed by the crowd.
    At allmost all points of the course, there have been a lot of spectators.
    I didn’t expect this…

    And for the tactical settings of the British Team: There are different rules in a one day Olympic of WC Race…

  • Mark Jones

    I didn’t see the race as just came back from a week away, but the comments confirm why the BBC should never have the Tour de France.

  • adam

    But look at the way people like Vino, Valverde and Basso treated the issue of doping. That is what annoys people. Those who still pretend they did nothing wrong and don’t seem to understand why people don’t respect them. I agree that I wouldn’t have had Millar there either – I think the deterents should be multi faceted and not competing for your country is a good one to stick to.
    Maybe vino is clean today… and he certainly has the sense to be in the right place. But I’d have been a damn sight happier to see O’Grady or Uran win it…

  • geoff

    Agree the commentry was bad and very zenophobic; Boardman’s voice would send anyone to sleep; Hugh Porter had no idea what was what. BBC was as usual lacking information though the cameramen did their best to cover breaks.
    Just back from watching the Tour; French TV was good; but according to their radio coverage there were only French riders in any break. So don’t be too hard on the British coverage

  • Ron Warner

    The commentators struggled to give a good commentary, as they were deprived of any information regarding gaps.
    I found their comments knowledgeable and useful, and I agreed with their complaints that not only were the riders without radio, but so were the broadcast team.
    Compare this coverage with that of the jubilee regatta, and you see the low production values of the BBC.
    I expect that athletics coverage will be much better, with instant repeats and informed criticism. It’s enough to drive you to Sky.

  • Robert

    A great win by Vino, and the way he won it was in marked contrast to the negative racing tactics adopted by the UK squad. As to Vino’s past, wasn’t everyone arguing only days ago that people could have faith in Wiggins’ Tour win, not least because the Biological passport scheme has put an end to the excesses of the past? Surely the same can be said of Vino’s win, or would people prefer to accept that all results are still open to doubt? You can’t have things both ways!

  • David Chadderton

    Hearty congratulations to Vino for taking the responsibility for winning the Gold medal; and at 38 years young. Vino did not hide behind team mates for an armchair ride to the final 200 m. He rode out into the wind, risked everything and worked flat out for the win. Isn’t that what real cycle racing is all about? Just ask Eddy Merckx how he won races. Stuart O’Grady, what a magnificent ride all day, marshaled the early break into a working group and then finished sixth; another near veteran. Fabian Cancellara, what a hero; so sorry about that late crash; get well soon. Philippe Gilbert, another hero who headed for London all alone from Box Hill but ran out of puff too soon. What a fascinating race, fabulously televised and commentated for Australia, equally good as for the Tour de France. Sorry for the cossetted sprinters but one-day races are primarily for individuals, unpredictable, chaotic and are won by brave attacks, not by hiding.

  • roginoz

    great crowds,great support for many nations without lunatics as on tour climbs . several riders had past doping bans or implications ALL SERVED . a rider of guts and character won , one whose cycling ‘brother’ Kivilev was remembered by the winner s subsequent victories prob inc this one .well done Alexander Vinokourov ….many comments imply it was Cavendish s right to win .such people here in oz are called whingeing poms . thanx moaners for helping to perpetuate that view .

  • Graham

    Great race, BBC and Olympic organisers should wake up and realise this event is about sport at its highest level, not just a torch going round behind a bus, an opening ceremony and counting gold medals.

    Congratulations Vino on winning what must have been a very very tough race. Pity things didn’t go our way, but that is sport.

    Share the disgust at the BBC interviewer’s opening remark to Vino. Give the job to someone who knows about the sport in question please, and will treat all competitors with equal respect.

  • Winston, Port Elizabeth

    i totally agree with Nick and Greg…..Vino is a worthy winner, served out his ban and raced clean just like Saint David Millar……I can see the headlines for the 2013 Tour de France by the British public when Alberto Contador takes his title back…….sooooo predictable…..

  • John Davies

    This may spell the end of Olympic RR!! A known and convicted DOPER WINS!!!! Don’t tell me about the reformed Miller either – there was no way he should have been there – Cav or not.

    Team GB simply got it wrong – they are not invincible and today proved that. Call me old fashioned but having a man in a big move is always going to be useful and then how in Gods name did they let Spartacus get into a move? Sadly he crashed but I suspect he would have won. If anyone was watching closely Mr Boonen was always a strong play had it come back together – he sat on Cavs wheel for most of the day and don’t tell me he wasn’t flying because just look at the way he got back up to them after his mechanical near the end. Sorry GB you just got it totally wrong – it was yours to lose and sadly you lost it.

  • Diane Clark

    Worst coverage of any cycle race I’ve ever seen. What a contrast to the Tour! What the hec happened?

  • adam

    Nick… all well and good except Vino never served his ban. He retired and got away with it…. To have him win is gutting.
    Never been a big fan of Millar either, but at least he held his hands up.

  • Peter B

    Well done to Vino, bad luck to team GB, but they applied stage racing tactics. Shame Cancellera crashed, he could have been the winner today, but now we will never know.
    The BBC coverage was awful, Hugh Porter hasnt a clue, it was obvious from the start he didnt even have a start list with riders numbers etcs. He complained that the team colours were different…The late great Bill Mclaren would have spent the previous week learning all the colours and numbers.
    And why did BBC3 start showing adverts right in the middle of the last few climbs of Box Hill?
    However thanks to the guys and girls at CW and the tweeters around the course we could understand what was going on…VERY WELL DONE., what you doing Wednesday, there could be a vacancy at the BBC!

  • Rich

    The tv coverage was truly awful. Pretty much useless. So much so that I stopped watching. However, I very much suspect that the cause had less to do with the BBC than the games organisers. The commentators fought manfully to hide their frustration at the lack of information and it was clear even, that the riders had great difficulty in ascertaining time gaps. Very little information was provided – time gaps, riders in the breakaways, distance covered and remaining. I didn’t even see a meaningful map of the route! It was as though they were trying to save money. £9bn and they scrimp like that!

    Very, very disappointing.

  • JD

    Pathetic anti-Millar comments on this forum – Vinokourov was a dark night of doping, Millar wasn’t. He admitted it.

    Oh, and Millar was never going to win, past or no past. Vino has got some unjust desserts.

  • Orlando

    What I can’t understand is why the course wasn’t tailored for Cavendish? All other nations do this, but we Brits have to design a course w/ a hill in the middle, perfectly suited for punchy riders like Gilbert, Vino and a ton of others, but NOT for any of our guys. Credit to them that they did their best, but I’m incensed that BOA didn’t look out for OUR interests. Idiots.

  • Greg

    I agree Nick – too much sanctimony about Vino. All the hypocrites would have been tight-lipped if Cavendish had won, regarding Millar’s past.

    Great win from one of the most exciting riders of recent times.

  • neil duerden

    Perhaps all those who argued the toss for the inclusion of ex-dopers-& unrepentant ones at that-may wish to reconsider their position.

    Never forget this was the man that helped to ruin the 2007 Tour De France- with his blood doping -which had its Grand Depart in London.

    After the euphoria of Bradley Wiggin’s fantastic win in the Tour De France last weekend I feel totally deflated by this-the worst possible winner of the Olympic Road Race.

    Shocked&disgusted in equal measure&an embarrasment for cycling……….

  • angharad

    A sad day for the team who did valiantly, but the lack of help from the other sprint teams ensured a breakaway could win it. They did. The coverage was less than satisfactory, perhaps they should retire Hugh Porter, and they could learn a bit from French TV regarding information such as time differences etc.

  • Geoff Waters, Durban , South Africa

    The first rule in one day road racing is: Police every break no matter how early it goes. Team GB applied stage racing tactics – grind down the opposition. No team GB rider in any of the breaks. Result, no medals.

  • JohnD

    Disaster for cycling – we thought he’d retired but he comes back from the dead like along-lost uncle to embarrass everyone.

    If only one of the decent riders like Cancellara had stuck it out in the absence of Cavendish.

  • Nick

    Not controversial at all! It seems to me, Vino is singled out by media and TV commentators regarding his drugs ban, including on TV today. No mention of Millar, Valverde and others’ drugs bans, only Vino’s! He served his ban and won fair and square – a fitting end to a great career!

  • Jon

    Anyone else frustrated by the commentary? When a large group attacked on the last climb (predictably) they droned complacently on about how Great Britain were controlling the race, only seeming to notice the danger with 30k to go? 10/10 for effort from our guys but it seemed unlikely before then with the Germans not daring to do any work (apart from an early stint by TM) in case Cav got to the line with anything left in his legs.

    Then when Vino gets off his bike he’s interviewed by some woman who seems to know nothing about the sport, doesn’t have the grace to congratulate him and her opening line is “it’s not what the British public would have wanted”. Meanwhile back in the studio the mikes stop working and there’s some bloke chatting away in a back room not realising he’s on TV.

    I just hope we didn’t finish it off by playing the Borat anthem for Vino on the podium.

  • Mick W

    For me that was the least agreeable winner in the whole Peleton ,……anyone but that guy ! The Brits were always going to be up against it trying to control the Race from start to finish with just five men, we are talking CLEAN riders here!……I thought the turnout of spectators was amazing, showing what a following Cycling now has in this Country ,…great to see.

  • Matt

    Awful TV coverage and an awful winner. Great.

  • Anonymous

    What a way to end his career!

  • William Hirst

    At least team GB did their best. Its bit much to expect to have both the Tour on the Olympic gold medal in the same year but they tried. Well done to them all. Not all gloom and doom. A team Sky rider did get a medal. I wish he got gold instead of that doper Vinokourov. Still, well done to Rigoberto Uran.