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RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) — Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali suffered a broken collarbone and Australia’s Richie Porte suffered a broken scapula Saturday at the men’s Olympic road race in Rio de Janeiro.
Porte took a hard a fall on a tricky descent in the penultimate lap of the Vista Chinesa circuit, abandoning the race, while Nibali ran into trouble on the very same downhill run the following lap. The 31-year-old Italian looked like a strong bet to win gold until he crashed rounding a corner 12 kilometers from the Copacabana finish.
He was taken to hospital, after which his Italian coach Davide Cassani confirmed the injury news via Twitter.
It was a sorry end to what had been a promising race for the Italians, who had played their tactics to perfection.
They placed three riders in a critical late 10-man breakaway, after which Nibali attacked on the final climb.
Only Colombia’s Sergio Henao and Rafal Majka of Poland could go with him. After cresting the ascent 15 seconds clear of the rest with 15km to go, Nibali started to put the hammer down — but he and Henao hit the deck on the tricky descent.
“Vincenzo was sitting on the kerb in silence. Words served no purpose, we looked at each other a moment but he was silent,” said Cassani. “We didn’t say a word to each other, his morale was in tatters.”
Cassani added: “We had ridden the perfect race, the lads were amazing but unfortunately a skid undid everything, it all went wrong.”
Porte, meanwhile, will no longer be in contention for a medal in the upcoming men’s time trial. His Australian team confirmed via its website that Porte’s broken scapula will keep him out of the TT, an event for which he had been among the pre-race favorites.