The Spanish Armada: That's how Ken Conley described the Spanish cycling team's performance this morning with Spaniard Samuel Sanchez's gold medal in the men's road racing team. I watched the race live but finally had to throw the towel in at about 1 A.M., just like the field of 53 DNFs in the race that included Americans David Zabriskie and Jason McCartney.
For pure gutsiness, I have to give Chile's Patricio Almonacid the nod. He and Bolivian Horacio Gallardo led a breakaway five minutes after the race start. An hour and a half later, Gallardo dropped back and Almonacid raced solo for over an hour before the escape group, led by Jason McCartney (USA), Vladimir Efimkin (Russia) and Christian Pfannberger (Austria) muscled their way across the 20 minute gap to catch Almonacid. 20 minutes later, Almonacid dropped off the back of the escape group, his 2½ hours of glory over. Almonacid would eventually DNF. He's one of the very few Olympic racers who does not race professionally.
You know where to find the usual cycling Olympic coverage and results, but I found some interesting commentary via Cyclodro.me Olympics 2008:
- Jonathan Crowe's DFL Blog covers the last place finishes at the Olympics. For the men's cycling road race, that would be Brazil's Luciano Pagliarini, who finished 44 minutes behind Sanchez. Crowe notes there was only a 2 mph average speed difference between Sanchez and Pagliarini. The 30 year old races professionally for Saunier Duval. In 2007 he won Stage 4 in Tour of Missouri and won Stage 6 of the Tour of California this year.
- Lanterne Rouge celebrates Ahmed Belgasem's last place finish. Belgasem, who represents Libya, was happy just to participate and showed obvious enthusiasm. Ahmed trained for a month at the UCI's World Cycling Center early this summer to prepare himself for his Olympic run.
- The most exciting coverage has to be from Pez Cycling News with their Great Wall of Sammy summary of the race. Check out this writing:
The oldest man in the field, 37 year-old Davide Rebellin of Italy made it close to a fairytale ending to the race, grabbing silver from the force of nature that is Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, with fast finishing Alexandr Kolobnev of Russia taking fourth after going too early; Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck banged his bars as he crossed the line in fifth, whilst there were no such histrionics from ‘back from the dead’ Australian Michael Rogers who took sixth.