Disappointment for Cavendish

  • Last Updated: July 28 2012, 22:30 BST

Mark Cavendish's bid to claim Great Britain's first Olympic gold of the London 2012 Games on The Mall was ended as Kazakhstan's Alexandr Vinokourov triumphed in a dramatic men's road race.

Mark Cavendish: Unable to win a medal

Cavendish, the world champion and winner of 23 Tour de France stages, was among the favourites for the 250-kilometre event, which included nine ascents of Surrey's Box Hill.

But despite phenomenal support from his four British team-mates a late breakaway stayed clear and Vinokourov won the sprint for the line.

Colombia's Rigoberto Uran, a Team Sky colleague of Cavendish's, claimed silver, with Norway's Alexander Kristoff third.

  • The Team GB squad are presented to the crowd - Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish, David Millar, Bradley Wiggins and Ian Stannard
  • Race favourite Cavendish signs in
  • Tour de France winner Wiggins and Cavendish get in the zone on the start line
  • Conditions were ideal at the start - ahead of the riders lay 250km and nine climbs of Box Hill
  • The peloton streams past Buckingham Palace in a blur of colour
  • Heading up Constitution Hill
  • Richmond Park came early on the route as massive crowds roared on the riders
  • There was huge support for Cavendish and Team GB
  • The nine circuits of Box Hill shaped the race - Chris Froome paces Team GB in this shot
  • They had to work incredibly hard to keep the multiple attacks in check
  • A 12-man group opened up a lead of over five minutes
  • Lars-Petter Nordhaug was very active before being held up behind a crash
  • In the closing stages Alexandre Vinokourov fired clear to take the win...
  • ...The Kazakh holding off Rigoberto Uran and the rest of the escapees
  • Norwegian Alexander Kristoff claimed bronze from the remainder of the break
  • Germany's Andre Greipel won the bunch sprint but only for the minor placings
  • Wiggins and Great Britain crossed the line dejected having given their all
  • The final podium on The Mall was certainly not the one many expected
The pick of the images from the men's road race which got the London Olympics under way in style.

Cavendish finished 29th and afterwards the 27-year-old from the Isle of Man expressed frustration that rival teams were content so long as he did not win.

He told BBC1: "It seems like most teams are happy not to win as long as we don't win.

"It's the story of our lives in cycling. "It shows what a strong nation we are. We've got to take the positives from that and take it as a compliment."

He had described Britain's five-man squad as the "dream team", featuring Tour winner Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, David Millar and Ian Stannard.

All four had ridden in support of Cavendish when he won the World Championships road race in Copenhagen last September, but this task proved to be much tougher.

Cavendish was unhappy the likes of Australia and Germany, who had sprinters in their teams, were reluctant to pursue the breakaway.

He added: "It's bitterly disappointing. There's 70 guys in our group at the finish, I don't understand why there's (only) three guys riding. It doesn't make sense.

"No-one wants to help us. The Australians sit there. They always just ride negatively...they're happy to see us lose.

"I'd like to say that's how it goes, but it's disappointing.

"But we did everything. We can't make excuses. We did everything we said we were going to do and more. To see the guys with the calibre they've got ride like that for me is incredible."

On his team-mates, he continued: "Incredible. I couldn't be more proud of them. They're still sat there in their kit in the tent. They're absolutely spent.

"They just rode 250k (kilometres) they've gone 60k an hour for the last hour. It's incredible, I'm so proud of them."

Despite the result, Cavendish relished the experience of competing in front of vocal support at a home Games.

"All our ears are ringing," he said. "Obviously we don't pick up on individuals, you just hear noise. It was tremendous the whole way round.

"It's something I'll remember forever.

"I haven't got a medal but I can be completely proud of my team and completely proud of my country for their support."

It was an impressive display from Vinokourov, who served a doping suspension earlier in his career but has not expressed remorse.

Millar served a two-year ban until 2006 after admitting to using blood booster EPO and was included in the British team after the British Olympic Association's lifetime ban was overturned.

Millar, now a fervent anti-doping campaigner, simply believes Britain ran out of bodies for the chase.

"We had five and a quarter hours on the front, we just didn't have that extra little bit," Millar said.

"We needed three more riders. We rode the race we said we were going to race, but there were strong guys up the road.

"The other teams seemed to be working to smash our race up."

Vinokourov, who served a two-year ban after testing positive for blood doping in 2007, later brushed off questions about his past and said he would now consider retiring.

He said: "2007 is a closed chapter. The question was already asked in 2010, there's no point asking the question again.

"I proved I was good enough to come back again and be good on the bike.

"It's not the right time to ask this question again, cycling has changed a lot, organisers have done a lot to fight doping and I do what I can now in this field."