Rio 2016: Greg Van Avermaet wins Olympic Gold after crash strewn road race

Greg Van Avermaet claimed an unlikely Gold medal today after winning the men's road race after a frantic last 10km.

Rio 2016: Greg Van Avermaet wins Olympic Gold after crash strewn road race

The first cycling event of Rio 2016 ended once again without a medal of any colour for Team GB. The closest to clinching a medal was Geraint Thomas.

On a course mixed with cobbles, climbs and flat parts, the riders hoping for medals set off. It wasn't too long before a breakaway of six riders had formed, non of Team GB were amongst them, but with over 200km remaining there was no concern for the Brits. Safely ensconced in the Peleton Chris Froome, Thomas, Ian Stannard, Adam Yates and Steve Cummings were biding their time, formulating their plan and staying in the chasing group of riders.

Even when the six leaders managed to stretch away with an eight minute lead the Brits did not panic. With the riders approaching the cobbles, Richie Porte suffered a chain incident, as it came off. 

The cobbles were part of a circuit the riders had to complete and on the next time round more problems occurred for the riders.
Greg van Avermaet had a puncture and Bauke Mollema had all sorts of problems - chains, wheels - and also a new bike.

With the lead group less than two minutes ahead, Froome appeared to have a mechanical problem and changed bikes. The Brit was not concerned about this and Thomas was there to support the Tour De France winner. Perhaps this was a planned change?

Cummings, meanwhile had been leading out the peleton and the lead was just over two minutes with 90km to go. With the Brit forcing things along, the lead steadily dropped to under a minute, and the lead group of six became four. Cummings then dropped back and the group moved on without him. Thomas however had spotted his chance and made a move.

With Froome and Yates 53 seconds down on the chase group, there was still no panic in the British camp. Everyone had been working together, and Yates and the Tour De France winner were still doing so.

With just over 40km to go Thomas was in the leading group as the chasers had caught the others up. Yates was now leading the chase group.

Frantic last 40km sees Thomas and Nibali crash on the descent

On the downhill section Nelson Oliveira crashed badly, and not long after so did Porte, who crashed into a roadside post and appeared to have broken his collarbone. Yates joined Thomas in the leading group, with Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru on the descent.

With 25km to go the lead group consisted of 10 riders, including the two Brits.  On reaching the foot of the first climb Yates was dropped from the group, this left Thomas as the last Brit standing in the group of medal contenders.

On the descent however, Thomas was dropped as three riders made a break for it. Nibali, Sergio Henao and Rafal Majka,managed to get a lead on the Brit, the medals appeared to be settled between these riders as the gap to Thomas was 15 seconds.

Thomas was in with a shout until he crashed on the descent / Sky Sports
Thomas was in with a shout until he crashed on the descent / Sky Sports

On the bigger descent of the course, disaster struck. Nibali and Henao crashed. Thomas also crashed on the descent and his medal hopes went down with him.

With 500m to go there was a sprint for the line between the remaining three riders with the Belgian Van Avermaet taking the Gold, Jakob Fuglsang taking silver and Majka the Bronze.

Thomas managed to finish the race, but received medical treatment afterwards. Froome and Yates came in after Thomas over three minutes after the Belgian crossed the line.