Published Sunday 29 July 2012

The strength-sapping men’s cycling road race didn’t exactly go as New Zealand had hoped today, but nevertheless there was still some heartening news.
New Zealand had two cyclists in the large field of 144, the veteran Greg Henderson, who was the main medal hope, and Jack Bauer, who is at his first Olympics and was basically there to support him.
However Henderson, who recently completed the Tour de France, was off-colour with a stomach upset throughout the journey and was never a factor. The Dunedin rider eventually withdrew about two-thirds of the way through the 249.5km race.
Bauer, noted for his strength more than his sprinting ability, powered on and ended up finishing a most creditable 10th. He was in the bunch sprint for the bronze medal, but was slightly outmanoeuvred over the final few metres and finished a couple of bike lengths off the pace.
Nevertheless, it was a commendable effort by the 27-year-old from Christchurch. His 10th placing represents New Zealand’s best finish in the Olympic men’s road race in at least 20 years.
Henderson said he was bitterly disappointed with the way the day played out. “I thought this was really set up for me today with this course. I had an upset stomach this morning and through the race, and it got worse.
“It got to the stage where I had to have an emergency toilet stop. That’s never happened before. I did not feel that well and had dropped off the back and so I had no choice but to withdraw. I’m really gutted. This meant so much to me.”
Bauer was delighted with his elevated placing. "It would have been nice to get a medal, but I was really struggling with 20km to go. Hydration is always hard and I started cramping pretty badly. I'm happy."
The race was won by 39-year-old Alexandr Vinokurov of Kazakhstan from Colombian Rigoberto Uran Uran. The pair surged off the front of the lead group a few kilometres from the finish and hung on to dispute the gold.
The next bunch of 22, including Bauer, finished eight seconds behind.
The highly-rated Great Britain team, spearheaded by race favourite Mark Cavendish and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, never featured. Cavendish was first home for the Britons in 29th place, 40 seconds behind the winner.