Italian Elia Viviani won the Olympics men’s track omnium Monday despite a crash in the points race caused by sprint rival Mark Cavendish of Great Britain. Viviani picked himself up off the track after the mid-race pile-up and carried on to control the 40km event and take gold.
The crash saw South Korean Park Sanghoon suffer burns and bruises, ending with a trip to hospital. “It was my fault, I should have been looking where I was going a bit more,” said Cavendish, right after losing his temper with a Brazilian TV reporter who had asked him about the incident. “I hope he [Park] is alright, really. I apologized to Elia when he went down.”
Viviani dusted himself down and rode on, but he felt no hard feelings toward Cavendish. “I’m not angry, it’s a bike race, we’re on the track, single speed, no brakes, so when one guy changes direction in front of you and another one doesn’t read the change of direction, he crashes,” said the 27-year-old Italian. “It’s not his fault. He had the Korean guy in half-wheel on the right and normally you stay on [behind] the wheel.”
Viviani, who rides for Team Sky on the road, went into the final race of the six-event competition at the Rio Olympics with the lead. Colombian Fernando Gaviria came on strong, taking a lap on the field and winning the points race, but he came up short of a medal in fourth. Cavendish was fourth in the points race, securing second in the omnium and his first Olympic medal. It was also Viviani’s first career medal. “My dad and mum are here so it was an emotional moment,” he added.
“I’m happy. But for the points I lost in elimination, I could have been right up with Elia,” said Cavendish. “There was nothing I could do about that and give him [Viviani] credit, he was strong.
“I’m happy, I wanted gold but I got my medal, it’s really nice. To have made it gold would have filled the collection but that’s the way I am.”
Defending omnium champion Lasse Norman Hansen, the defending Olympics champion, won bronze after a tooth-and-nail battle with Cavendish for sprint points all the way to the end of the final race. The Dane was second in the points race, but his overall ambitions were ruined by a bad showing in the elimination race Sunday.
Final omnium top 10
1. Elia Viviani (I) 207 points
2. Mark Cavendish (GB) 194
3. Lasse Hansen (Dk) 192
4. Fernando Gaviria (Col) 181
5. Thomas Boudat (F) 172
6. Roger Kluge (G) 167
7. Glenn O’Shea (Aus) 144
8. Dylan Kennett (NZ) 143
9. Tim Veldt (Nl) 111
10. Artyom Zakharov (Kaz) 111