Disappointing finish to Wong's Games campaign
Wong Kam-po's two years of preparations for the Atlanta Olympics came to a disappointing end when he failed to complete the 221.85-kilometre Olympic road race last night.
The 23-year-old Wong kept with the 130-odd main peloton for the first five laps of the 17-lap race and dropped back to a second peloton two laps later, allowing the main group of around 60 riders to break away.
However, with the main group almost a lap ahead, Wong had to comply with the rules and stop cycling once the leaders had crossed the finish line.
Under hot and humid conditions, he was one of 50 riders from the 190-odd field to have a DNF (did not finish) against his name.
Switzerland's Pascal Richard won the race in a sprint finish that also involved Denmark's Rolf Soerenson, who took the silver, and bronze medallist Max Sciandri, a British-Italian rider representing Great Britain at the Games.
All three were credited with the same winning time of four hours, 36:17, 38 seconds ahead of American Frankie Andreu.
Richard came into the race as one of the many professional riders, including Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis and Spain's Miguel Indurain, who were expected to dominate.
But while most of the bigger names floundered, Richard, who won Stage 12 of this year's Tour and finished 47th overall, kept up a solid pace with fellow Tour rider Soerenson and Sciandri.
Soerenson was 28th overall in the Tour de France, having won Stage 13.
Riis finished in 28th position with a time of 4:39:11, the same as 48 other riders in the same peloton including Uzbekhistan's Djamalodine Abduzhaparov and 1988 Olympic road race winner Olaf Ludwig of Germany.
Indurain, who this year lost the Tour de France title to Riis after winning it five years in a row, failed to finish in the top 65.
American Lance Armstrong was in a 12-strong peloton finishing 22 seconds behind Andreu in 4:37:17.
Despite the result, Wong was satisfied with his performance 'It was quite a fast pace and I had to compete against top riders. At least I did my best,' he said. Wong's coach Shen Jinkang said: 'Most of the top riders are professionals with 10 years experience. Kam-po only has around two years experience riding against professional riders. That is probably the main reason for his performance.' Shen, however, said that Wong should look positively towards the Asian Games in Bangkok in two years' time.
'Apart from a few riders from the former Soviet states, Wong can compete with the best Asian riders, so he should do well in Bangkok,' he said.
Wong became the first Hong Kong rider to take part in the Olympic road race since Hung Chung-yam finished 12th in the 1988 road race in Seoul.
Hong Kong did not compete in the men's team time trial this year as they did at the Seoul Olympics.