RIO DE JANEIRO: Fabian Cancellara ensured his retirement at the end of the year would be golden by reclaiming the Olympic cycling time-trial title in Rio on Wednesday.
The Beijing 2008 champion, who finished only seventh in London four years ago after being injured in a crash in the road race, was totally dominant as he beat Tom Dumoulin into second with Tour de France champion Chris Froome back in third.
But following 42-year-old Kristin Armstrong’s victory in the women’s race, Switzerland’s Cancellara insisted he would not reverse his decision to retire at the end of the year.
“No, definitely not! I said at the beginning of the year what was going to happen this year — 35 or 44, whatever it changes nothing.
“Everyone has their own choice of when they want to continue.”
He added: “It means a lot to participate in sport’s highest event that the world presents and to win the gold medal in my retirement year, I think I’m just super proud.
“But I want more than this (from life). This will not give me any doubts about this — my retirement continues.
“Women’s cycling is different to men’s cycling — 16 years is 16 years.”
Known as Spartacus in the professional peloton, Cancellara was long considered the best time-trialist in the world as he won four world titles.
In recent years the 35-year-old had been surpassed by German Tony Martin, who could finish only 12th, London champion Bradley Wiggins and even Dutchman Dumoulin.
But he proved he still had one big performance left in him by storming to gold along the 54.5km route in 1hr 12min 15.42sec, to beat Dumoulin by 47sec. Froome, who also won bronze in London, was more than a minute behind.
“At the moment I’m more or less quite disappointed,” said Dumoulin, who broke his wrist in a crash at the Tour de France just over two weeks ago.
“I had my objective at the beginning of the year, that was the gold medal — I didn’t succeed.
“Everyone is telling me I should be very proud of myself, especially after the last couple of weeks after my injury.
“I know I should be and I know I will be after tomorrow, but at the moment I can’t control my feelings.”
Froome said he could have no complaints about the result.
“Fabian was definitely the strongest rider out on the road today,” said the Briton.
“I’m happy with my performance. The focus of my season was the Tour de France. Now to medal again at the Olympics is an amazing feeling — I’ve got no regrets.”
Cancellara was flying at the first time check after 10km but Australian Rohan Dennis had moved in front by the second at 19.7km.
Yet Cancellara came storming back to lead Dennis by almost 18 seconds by the end of the next sector at 34.6km, a swing of 42 seconds from the previous time check.
Dumoulin, the pre-race favourite, had overtaken world champion Vasil Kiryienka, who started a minute and a half before him, by the time they reached the third check.
He was third at that point, 25 seconds back, ahead of Froome at 32sec.
Dennis then had mechanical problems and had to change bikes dropping him behind Dumoulin and Froome at the 44.4km checkpoint. That allowed Cancellara to increase his overall lead to 32sec.
The top three would not change from there as Cancellara powered home. AFP