Rio Olympics 2016: Chris Froome GB gold bid fails as Geraint Thomas crashes

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Belgium's Van Avermaet wins dramatic road race
Olympic Games on the BBC
Hosts: Rio de Janeiro Dates: 5-21 August Rio time: BST -4
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Great Britain's Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas missed out on a medal in the men's road race at Rio 2016 as Belgium's Greg van Avermaet took gold.

British hopes were ended when Thomas crashed on the final descent, after Froome and Adam Yates had failed to stay with the leaders.

Thomas still finished the race as the best-placed British rider, in 11th.

Froome, who was 12th, goes for gold again in Wednesday's time trial, hoping to better his bronze at London 2012.

A thrilling finish saw Van Avermaet win the sprint to the line, leaving Denmark's Jakob Fuglsang to take silver and Poland's Rafal Majka bronze.

Yates came home in 15th while the other British riders, Ian Stannard and Steve Cummings, did not finish.

A brutal course takes its toll

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Road race leaders lose out in dramatic crash

Before the race Froome had described the picturesque 237.5km road-race route as the most brutal course in Olympic history, but the three-time Tour de France winner's challenge did not falter until the final 20km.

By then, fewer than 40 of the 144 starters were left in contention after almost six hours of racing but Britain's riders remained well placed, with Thomas part of a six-man lead group that had opened up a 30-second gap on what was left of the peloton.

Froome and Adam Yates were back in that pack along with pre-race favourites Alejandro Valverde of Spain and Italy's Vincenzo Nibali, who was waiting to make his move.

It came on the penultimate descent of Vista Chinesa when Nibali bridged the gap. Yates got across too but was dropped early on the final set of ascents when the race completely split and Froome was left with too much work to do.

Analysis: Chief sportswriter Tom Fordyce
"A spectacular course around the streets and hills of Rio produced a spectacular race. With all respect to Box Hill, Richmond Park and Hampton Wick, this Olympic road race course had it all - cobbles, brutal climbs, dangerous technical descents - and it blew the field apart.
"If British sympathies go to Geraint Thomas, who did so much for so long, Vicenzo Nibali and Sergio Henao will also be left wondering what if after their own crashes on the final descent of Vista Chinesa.
"Not a single medal between the powerhouses of Italy, Spain, France and Great Britain, but a big win for Rio on a sometimes troubled first day of these Olympics."

Thomas was left as Britain's last chance of a medal but did not have the legs to stay with the three leaders - Nibali, Colombia's Team Sky rider Sergio Henao and Majka.

That trio looked set to contest the medals until the final descent when Nibali and Henao both crashed out, with Thomas sliding off the road soon afterwards.

Majka was left clear but could not hold off Fuglsang or Van Avermaet, who won the sprint to the line along the Copacabana.

"Crazy day out there today! Team GB were amazing all day. So gutted for Geraint Thomas crashing when he did," Froome tweeted.

Thomas also tweeted: "Thanks for all the messages guys. Gutted to end like that, with it all the play for!!!"

Greg van Avermaet celebrates winning Olympic gold
Van Avermaet celebrates his gold medal. The 31-year-old has won three stages of the Tour de France and has a strong record in one-day Classics races

No medal but Brits still impressive - Boardman

Three of Britain's five riders were involved at the front of the race until almost the very end and the other two, Stannard and then Cummings, had sacrificed their individual chances to haul in an early breakaway.

Olympic gold medallist and BBC cycling co-commentator Chris Boardman said: "We did not win a medal because ultimately we did not have the legs for it but, tactically, that was the best Olympic road race I have seen from the British team, so hats off to them.

Thomas shredded his jersey in his crash at the end of the road race
Thomas shredded his jersey in his crash at the end of the road race that left him in the gutter

"They gave themselves plenty of options rather than concentrating on one rider, and used them superbly. All five rode a tough course fantastically well and I was really impressed by how they managed their resources.

"Thomas did a phenomenal job, the whole team did. Britain's best rider was expected to be Froome but for me Thomas would have been the better sprinter if it had come to that."

British coach Rod Ellingworth said: "Looking at Geraint there he was proper, proper disappointed. He knew that was a proper gold medal chance.

"He's all right. He's fallen heavy, he's got plenty of skin off, but he's okay, I think.

"I knew from the test event that descent was going to perhaps be a deciding factor in the race. And it was.

"When you think about how many riders crashed round there it was pretty mad really."

Olympic road race, Rio
The race along the Rio coastline took riders into the rainforest and involved 5,000m of climbing in 11 separate ascents
Chris Froome reflects on the road race with Geraint Thomas
Thomas got back on his bike and finished 11th, one place ahead of Froome

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