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Vinokourov claims cycling gold as British favorites struggle

updated 2:33 PM EDT, Sat July 28, 2012
 Vinokourov, centre, Uran, left, and Kristoff, right, on the podium after being presented with their medals
Vinokourov, centre, Uran, left, and Kristoff, right, on the podium after being presented with their medals
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kazakhstan's Alexandre Vinokourov wins gold
  • Colombian Rigoberto Uran claimed silver, Norway's Alexander Kirstoff bronze
  • World champion Mark Cavendish finishes a disappointing 29th

(CNN) -- Alexandre Vinokourov claimed Kazakhstan's first medal at the London Olympics with gold in Saturday's men's cycling road race.

Much fancied home favorite Mark Cavendish finished a disappointing 29th as the British team struggled to meet pre-race expectations.

Colombia's Rigoberto Uran took the silver, while bronze went to Alexander Kristoff from Norway.

The 38-year-old Vinokourov, who served a two-year ban for blood doping between 2007 and 2009, announced after the race that he may retire from the sport after Wednesday's cycling time trial.

"I will still race in the time trial on Wednesday but I have the gold medal I wanted and after that I will consider retiring," said the Kazakh cyclist.

World champion Cavendish had been strongly tipped to finally claim the Olympic medal that had eluded him at the 2008 Games in Beijing, where he was the only member of Britain's track cycling team to return from the games without a medal.

Despite the British team having control of the peloton throughout the race, they struggled to close the gap on the lead group and Cavendish was nowhere in sight as Vinokourov out sprinted Uran to the finish line in front of Buckingham Palace.

"There was a group of 22 who got away and we couldn't pull them back," said Cavendish.

"I can be proud of how the lads rode. They have got nothing left in the tank.

Cavendish's hopes appeared to have been boosted when rival Swiss sprinter Fabian Cancellara crashed, but the peloton could not close on the leading group.

With just under 10km to the finish line -- and a handy time advantage of 50 seconds -- the leading pack looked to be preparing for a sprint finish, but Uran made a break for it, and surprisingly Vinokourov was the only rider to respond.

As the two riders rounded the final corner, the Kazakh made the most of his rival slowing to look back to check for pursuers and launched a sprint to the line.

It was quickly clear that the Colombian had no answer to the Kazakh's attack and Vinokourov had a big enough lead to ride across the line with his arms aloft.

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