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Spain's Sanchez Gil edges frenetic road race

Sanchez win
Luis Leon Sanchez Gil of Spain (L) crosses the line to win gold. Getty Images
Final lap breakaway secures gold for Spain, silver for Ukraine and bronze for Czech Republic

Luis Leon Sanchez Gil of Spain won the men's Cycling road race on Sunday after joining a final lap breakaway that denied the sprinters the mass finish they craved.

Sanchez Gil crossed the line in five hours, 27 minutes and 25 seconds, with his Astana team-mate Andriy Grivko of Ukraine and the Czech Republic's Petr Vakoc centimetres behind in silver and bronze respectively.

Spain’s Jesus Herrada Lopez was the unlucky loser from the four who made a bold move at the bottom of the final climb. In the end, he held off the chasing peleton by only four seconds.

“I told Jesus this medal was for our team-mates, but especially for him – he helped me until the finish,” said Sanchez Gil, who also won bronze in Thursday's time trial.

The race comprised six short laps of 12.8km, including a steep climb of 125m to the city's iconic Flame Towers, followed by 10 laps of 13.9km, which took in the same climb as well as a technical section over cobblestones through Baku's old city.

A frenetic early pace stretched the peleton from the first climb, with 20 riders breaking away and building up a 45-second advantage by the end of the first lap.

Latvia’s Gatis Smukulis and Ukrainian Andriy Vasylyuk attacked from the leading group at the end of lap seven and were caught by six other riders. The peleton began talking to – and then attacking – each other, unable to agree on how best to chase down the leaders.

By the final kilometres the breakaway had been consumed by a splintered peleton, with brave Vitaliy Buts of the Ukraine the last man to be reined in. A series of short-lived attacks followed until the decisive four-man breakaway.

“In the last two laps we just went full gas and there was no control of the race at all,” said Vakoc.

With trackside temperatures touching 40 degrees Celsius and many riders suffering small crashes, more than half of the field failed to finish.


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    Spain's Sanchez Gil edges frenetic road race

    Final lap breakaway secures gold for Spain, silver for Ukraine and bronze for Czech Republic
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