Kazakhstan's Alexander Vinokourov wins Olympic road race
Canada's Ryder Hesjedal well back in 63rd
Alexander Vinokourov of Kazakhstan is leaving the Olympics in style.
He won the cycling road race Saturday by prevailing in a two-man sprint to the finish after favourite Mark Cavendish dropped from contention.
Vinokourov, who served a two-year ban after testing positive for blood doping during the 2007 Tour de France, has said he will retire from cycling after the London Games.
"It's just unbelievable," Vinokourov said. "I finished the Tour de France a little tired, but the Olympics, I must go there."
Vinokourov broke away from the leading group about six miles from the finish with Rigoberto Uran of Colombia. Vinokourov then accelerated going down The Mall outside Buckingham Palace with 300 yards to go to leave Uran behind.
"It was up-down, up-down, too many people," Vinokourov said. "It was very dangerous. I knew that if was following the group I would have had no chance in the sprint. I finish my career with this victory."
Uran took silver, with Alexander Kristoff of Norway winning a mass sprint to for the bronze.
Canada's Ryder Hesjedal was well back in 63rd place.
Vinokourov was third at the 2003 Tour but his reputation was tainted after twice testing positive for banned blood transfusions during the 2007 three-week race.
This was Vinokourov's second Olympic medal following his runner-up finish at the 2000 Sydney Games.
It was a disappointing day for world champion Cavendish and the rest of the British team, which came into the Olympics full of confidence after Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour last weekend.
The home team tried to control the more than 150-mile (241.401-kilometre) race from the start, but could not stop the final breakaway and Cavendish finished in the main bunch.
"What we needed was a couple of guys to help us," British road captain David Millar said. "The Germans came up but we needed some help."
Chance to win gold
The Brits will have another chance to win gold in front of their home crowd with Wiggins being the favorite of the time trial next Wednesday.
Wiggins, Tour runner-up Christopher Froome, Cavendish, British champion Ian Stannard and David Millar were forced to respond to attacks from the start.
After Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, were introduced to them, the race started from the Mall, with the peloton heading through London.
It was a day when riders drew raucous applause from fans. It was also day when a big black dog crossed the road twice in front of the riders.
Veteran Australian Stuart O'Grady ignited the first real move of the day, breaking clear of the peloton and taking in his wheel a group of 11 men, including experienced riders Janez Brajkovic, Italian Marco Pinotti, Russian Denis Menchov and Belgian Juergen Roelandts.
The escapees worked well and opened a three minutes gap over the peloton with more than 130 miles to go, forcing the British favourites to work early as Wiggins and his teammates moved to the front of the bunch.
With no riders in the breakaway, the Germans decided to join forces with the Brits at the start of the second of nine loops around Box Hill, with world time trial champion Tony Martin leading the peloton in the ascent.
The Australians stayed true to their promise to make the race as uncertain as possible, sending Michael Rogers on a counter-attack. Rogers, a member of the Sky team that dominated the Tour de France, left the pack with a brutal acceleration. The move added some pressure on the Brits, who could not step up the pace too much because of the risk of seeing Cavendish get dropped in Box Hill.