Bradley Wiggins has claimed the seventh Olympic medal of his career, and his fourth gold, by winning the men’s time trial.
The Englishman clocked a time of 50.39.34 to win by 42 seconds at the end of a 44km course that started and finished in front of Hampton Court Palace.
Tony Martin (Germany) took the silver medal with a time of 51.21.54, while Chris Froome made it two medals for Great Britain by finishing third with a time just over 1.08″ slower than Wiggins.
Sector one – 7.3km
The Tour de France champion began the time trial to huge cheers as he confidently negotiated the opening corner.
Taylor Phinney (USA), prologue winner at this year’s Giro d’Italia, posted an impressive time of 8.31 at 7.3km, a second faster than Chris Froome, but world time, Martin, next on the road after Phinney, knocked nine seconds from the American’s time.
Wiggins, riding after Martin, was five seconds slower than the German at the first checkpoint, but a second quicker than Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland), who as defending champion was last to start.
Unluckiest rider of the day was Luis Leon Sanchez (Spain) who snapped his chain with his first pedal stroke. The Spanish national time trial champion endured an agonising wait as his mechanics pulled a spare bike from the roof of the support car. A rear wheel change further up the road effectively ended his challenge.
Sector two – 18.4km
Three-time world time trial champion, Michael Rogers (Australia), was the first to beat the time at 18.4km of early pace setter, Jonathan Castroviejo, besting the Spaniard’s time by some 18 seconds.
But Froome passed the checkpoint in a time of 23.38.31, significantly faster than Sky teammate Rogers, and more than 26 seconds faster than that of five-time Italian national champion Marco Pinotti (Italy).
Phinney was unable to trouble Froome’s time, but the same could not be said of Martin, who was 12.35 seconds faster than the Kenyan-born Brit at the second check point.
The German’s time survived less than 90 seconds at the top of the time sheet, however, as Wiggins powered through some 11.23 seconds faster in a time of 23.14, more than recovering the five second deficit ceded to the German at the first checkpoint.
The Londoner’s time easily survived the challenge of Cancellara, who after 18.4km was 30 seconds down on Wiggins.
Sector three – 29.9km
Froome’s arrival at the 29.9km checkpoint was marked with a new fastest time of 35.25. Would it survive the challenge of Phinney, Martin, Wiggins, and Cancellara?
Phinney’s effort was 48 seconds short of Froome’s, but Martin was 19.28 seconds faster and as a result he closed visibly to Phinney.
But the world champion’s effort was destroyed by Wiggins, who smashed Martin’s time by 22 seconds, spurred on by deafening cheers from the crowd.
Cancellara’s arrival at the 29.9km checkpoint, in a time some 1.19.46 slower than Wiggins, was something of an anti-climax.
Finish – 44km
Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia) was the fastest of the early runners for some time, quicker than Denmark’s Jakob Fuglsang and Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen.
Castroviejo was the first to best Brajkovic’s 54.09 final time, who in turn was beaten by Rogers, who finished 38 seconds faster.
But the Australian’s time was obliterated by Froome, who finished in 1.03.52, some 51.47 faster than Rogers, having completed the course at an average speed of 51kmh.
His time easily survived the challenge of Pinotti, but Martin bettered Froome’s effort, smashing the time of the Tour de France runner-up by more than 26 seconds.
The stage was set for Wiggins’ arrival, and the Londoner didn’t disappoint, taking 42 seconds from the time of Martin.
Wiggins resolutely refused to celebrate until Cancellara’s arrival, some 2.14 later, and with him the assurance that he had become Great Britain’s most decorated Olympian.
Men’s Olympic time trial – result
1) Bradley Wiggins (GBR) – 0.50.39.54
2) Tony Martin (GER) +42”
3) Christopher Froome (Great Britain) +1.08.33
4)Taylor Phinney (USA) +1.58.53
5) Marco Pinotti (ITA) +2.09.74
6) Michael Rogers (AUS) +2.11.85
7) Fabian Cancellara (SUI) + 2.14.17
8) Bert Grabsch (GER) +2.38.50
9) Jonathan Castroviejo (SPA) +2.49.82
10) Janez Brajkovic (SLO)+3.30.18