LONDON (AFP) — Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran denied suggestions he’d surrendered to Alexander Vinokourov during a bizarre finish to the Olympic men’s road cycling race that saw the Kazakh triumph virtually unchallenged on The Mall.
Uran, who usually excels on hilly courses, had been among a 32-man group that broke away from the peloton inside the last 40km of the 249.5km race, leaving many big favorites behind.
And when he surged ahead inside the final 10km, he and Vinokourov went on to outpace the chasing pack, all but securing the top two steps on the podium. The only question was which one of them would take gold.
But with the finish line in central London in sight, Uran briefly stopped pedaling, veered to his left and looked over his shoulder.
It was enough to allow Vinokourov to launch an attack from 200 meters that secured the gold medal.
As Vinokourov savored a “dream” come true, and then announced his retirement, Uran denied he had lost focus.
“No, I didn’t lose my concentration. We’d done the last 10km at full speed,” Uran insisted. “I looked to my right and suddenly Alexander took off. I didn’t have anything left for a sprint. It was a very long day.”
Although the highly fancied British team of world champion Mark Cavendish were outraced on the day, most of them will get a glimpse of Uran’s silver medal as he races for the Sky team of Cavendish and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins.
Uran admitted his inside knowledge of his British teammates had proved useful during the race.
“It does help a little bit,” he said. “I think Britain lost the medal because they were looking after Mark Cavendish all day. They were so strong that no one dared attack them, but in the end I think they were too strong.”