Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara produced a magnificent performance to win the men’s Olympic Games time trial for the second time in his career as Chris Froome settled for bronze.
Cancellara stopped the clock on the hilly, 54.6km course just outside Rio in 1hr 12min 15sec, which was 47 seconds faster than runner-up Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands and 1min 2sec ahead of Froome.
There were two Britons in the top 10, after Geraint Thomas capitalised on his late call-up to the race by finishing 2min 37sec down in ninth.
Froome went into the race as a joint-favourite with Dumoulin and although both delivered well-paced performances, neither could compete with an inspired display from Cancellara, who repeated his Beijing 2008 triumph in what will be one of his final races before retirement at the end of the season.
The 35-year-old was 15 seconds ahead of Dumoulin and 20 seconds up on Froome at the 10km split after making an electric start, but it briefly looked like he had gone out too hard when he fell to seven seconds adrift of Dumoulin and dead level with Froome at the 19.7km time check.
However, Cancellara then hit the turbos again and when he reached the 34.6km split 26 seconds ahead of Dumoulin and 33 seconds up on Froome, the race for gold was effectively over and attention instead turned to the battle for silver.
Froome was still only eight seconds down on Dumoulin at the final time check, after 44.4km, but he drifted away from the Dutchman in the final sector and only beat fourth-placed Jonathan Castroviejo of Spain to bronze by four seconds. Froome, who also won bronze at London 2012, said: “I can’t be disappointed with that. I would have loved to have won the gold, but I gave it everything I had today, so I’ve got to be happy with that.”
“Fabian was the clear winner today. If I had lost by five or six seconds I would have been disappointed, but he was the clear winner. The year I’ve had, with the third Tour [de France] win and to come here and medal again in the Olympics, it is just incredible” he further added”
The race took place over two laps of the Grumari Circuit and contained four climbs, but wind and rain meant the riders also had wet descents to contend with.
Tom Dumoulin can take great pride in his performance today as he overcame a broken wrist sustained in the final week of the Tour to claim the silver medal.
“This is pretty special. After the disappointment of 2012 and all the ups and down, I knew this is my last season and the last chance to achieve something,” said Cancellera. “There are just no words to explain. Finishing with the gold, is not bad. I got the right balance, and got the key to get over this day. Now I am just happy.”
Cancellara, an iconic figure in the sport who is nicknamed ‘Spartacus’, is adamant this will be his last season in the sport. If that proves to be the case, he will go out on a magnificent high.
1 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland), 1:12:15
2 Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands), +47sec
3 Chris Froome (Great Britain), +1:02
4 Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain), +1:06
5 Rohan Dennis (Australia), +1:10
6 Maciej Bodnar (Poland), +1:50
7 Nelson Oliveira (Portugal), +2:00
8 Ion Izagirre (Spain), +2:06
9 Geraint Thomas (Great Britain), +2:37
10 Primoz Roglic (Slovenia), +2:40