Greg Van Avermaet’s only the Olympic champion

At the start of this year, you’d have had Greg Van Avermaet down as a nailed-on certainty for an Olympic silver medal. Or maybe fourth, actually – that’s the Olympic version of just missing out.

But things change. Van Avermaet won the Omloop. He won a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico and then got to play air guitar with a giant trident when that helped him win the overall. He also wore the yellow jersey after winning stage five of the Tour de France.

Now he’s Olympic champion. Olympic champions are not bridesmaids.


By being a strong, determined rider; by being a faster sprinter than the two other riders who were with him to contest the finish; and by not crashing on the final descent like quite a large proportion of the front of the field did.

One of those crashes, involving Colombian Sergio Henao and ‘best descender in the peloton’ Vincenzo Nibali (who seems to spend an awful lot of time on the deck of late), left Polish rider Rafal Majka out front on his own with just the final few flat kilometres to negotiate. Unfortunately for him, Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark) and Van Avermaet (Belgium) hunted him down. Both would have been faster than him in the sprint anyway, but with precisely zero energy left, he resigned himself to bronze.

How did the Brits do?

Fine. They were in amongst it right until the finish really – a group or two back from the front for the most part.

Chris Froome ran out of steam. Day racing’s not his thing, but he’s probably slacked off a bit since the Tour de France anyway. Much the same story for Adam Yates, while Geraint Thomas crashed, because he’s Geraint Thomas, and that’s invariably what he does.

Was it a good result?

Of course it was. I mean anyone’s better than that cock Alexander Vinokourov who won in London, but you also can’t quibble with a Belgian cycling champion. Cycling wouldn’t be what it is without Belgium.


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