Aug 15, 2016 – Italy’s Elia Viviani recovered from a crash before breaking down in floods of tears in his parents’ arms after winning the Olympic cycling men’s omnium gold on Monday.
“My dad and mum are here so it was an emotional moment,” said the new champion. Viviani was consistently strong over the two-day, six-event race and beat British road sprint star Mark Cavendish into second, with 2012 gold medallist Lasse Norman Hansen of Denmark third.
The Italian suffered a fall a third of the way into the final event, the 40km points race, which was caused by Cavendish and saw South Korean Park Sanghoon suffer burns and bruises, ending with a trip to hospital.
“It was my fault, I should have been looking where I was going a bit more,” said Cavendish, right after losing his temper with a Brazilian TV reporter who had asked him about the incident. “I hope he (Park) is alright, really. I apologized to Elia when he went down.”
Viviani dusted himself down and rode on, but he felt no hard feelings towards Cavendish. “I’m not angry, it’s a bike race, we’re on the track, single speed (bikes with) no brakes, so when one guy changes direction in front of you and another one doesn’t read the change of direction, he crashes,” said the 27-year-old Italian.
“It’s not his fault. He had the Korean guy in half-wheel on the right and normally you stay on (behind) the wheel.”
Cavendish rode a controlled points race but Viviani marked him throughout, the Briton unable to make significant inroads into the Italian’s lead, which he held since winning the third discipline late on Sunday.
“I’m happy. But for the points I lost in elimination, I could have been right up with Elia,” said Cavendish, who was missing only one major honor from his CV before this race — an Olympic medal. “There was nothing I could do about that and give him (Viviani) credit, he was strong. I’m happy, I wanted gold but I got my medal, it’s really nice. To have made it gold would have filled the collection but that’s the way I am.”
Hansen, whose own hopes suffered a crushing blow on Sunday when he finished last in the elimination race, started clawing his way back into contention by gaining a lap in the points race. But he didn’t have enough juice left to take crucial sprint points as Cavendish eventually settled for keeping hold of second place rather than
challenging Viviani for the win.
The Italian had finished first in the elimination race, second in the flying lap and third in both the individual pursuit and 1km time-trial. That made up for a seventh placed finish in the opening scratch race, his only real blip.
Cavendish came only seventh in the elimination and sixth in both the scratch and time-trial, leaving him with a lot of ground to make up — 16 points — in the final discipline. But this came less than a month after he won four stages on the road during July’s Tour de France, taking his total to 30.
“He’s achieved two different things on two different levels,” said British head coach Iain Dyer. “He’s come out of the Tour de France this year with four stage wins to crack 30 in total, which on its own in any rider’s career would be a massive achievement.”
Both Hansen and world champion Fernando Gaviria of Colombia threatened to make things interesting by gaining a lap in the final race, earning 20 points each. But Viviani and Cavendish mastered the sprints — there were 16, one every 10 laps — to keep their noses in front. Viviani won the 14th and 15th sprints, collecting five points each time, to ensure he would win, despite Cavendish’s best efforts.
1. Elia Viviani (ITA) 207 pts.
2. Mark Cavendish (GBR) 194
3. Lasse Norman Hansen (DEN) 192
4. Fernando Gaviria Rendon (COL) 181
5. Thomas Boudat (FRA) 172
6. Roger Kluge (GER) 167
7. Glenn O’shea (AUS) 144
8. Dylan Kennett (NZL) 143
9. Tim Veldt (NED) 111
10. Artyom Zakharov (KAZ) 111
11. Chun Wing Leung (HKG) 105
12. Gael Suter (SUI) 95
13. Gideoni Monteiro (BRA) 94
14. Kazushige Kuboki (JPN) 81
15. Ignacio Prado (MEX) 73
16. Park Sanghoon (KOR)
17. Bobby Lea (USA)
18. Jasper De Buyst (BEL)