RIO DE JANEIRO: taly’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.
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, but dusted himself down and held off determined challenges from a number of riders.
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 honour from his palmares 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.
Both Hansen and world champion Fernando Gaviria of Colombia threatened to make things interesting by gaining a lap in the final race, earing 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.