Gladiator spirit: Fabian ‘Spartacus’ Cancellara reclaims cycling time-trial gold
Fabian Cancellara ensured his retirement at the end of the year would be golden by reclaiming the Olympic cycling time-trial title in Rio on Wednesday.
The Beijing 2008 champion, who could finish only seventh in London four years ago after being affected by a crash in the road race, was totally dominant as he beat Tom Dumoulin into second with Tour de France champion Chris Froome back in third.
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Known in the professional cycling peloton as Spartacus because of his gladiator, Cancellara was long considered the best time-trialist in the world as he won four world titles.
But he proved he still had one big performance left in him by storming to gold along the 54.5km route in a time of 1hr 12min 15.42sec, to beat Dumoulin by 47sec, with Froome, who also won bronze in London, more than a minute behind.
Cancellara was flying at the first time check after 10km but Australian Rohan Dennis had moved in front by the second at 19.7km.
Yet Cancellara came storming back to lead Dennis by almost 18 seconds by the end of the next sector at 34.6km, a swing of 42 seconds from the previous time check.
Dumoulin, the pre-race favourite, had overtaken world champion Vasil Kiryienka, who started a minute and a half before him, by the time they reached the third check.
He was third at that point, 25 seconds back, ahead of Froome at 32sec.
Dennis then suffered a mechanical issue and had to change bikes dropping him behind Dumoulin and Froome at the 44.4km checkpoint and allowing Cancellara to increase his overall lead to 32sec.
The top three would not change from there as Cancellara powered home.