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Cyclist Vinokourov Wins Gold Medal In Men's Road Race

Alexander Vinokourov of Kazakhstan won the gold medal in the men's cycling road race Saturday, edging Rigoberto Uran of Colombia in a late sprint in London. The 150-mile race ended in front of Buckingham Palace.

The Olympic medal completes a vindication for Vinokourov, 38, who has previously been suspended for doping, back in 2007. He retired last year, after breaking his leg at the Tour de France. But he returned to the French classic this summer.

Americans Tejay van Garderen and Taylor Phinney, both of whom train in Colorado, were in a breakaway group that stayed ahead of the main pack late into the race. Vinokourov and Uran emerged from that group to make it a two-man race for the finish line. The race turned on a moment when Uran glanced to the wrong side — precisely as Vinokourov dashed ahead for good.

Update at 11:45 p.m. EDT: After the race, Phinney told NBC, "Fourth is a good place, but it's the worst place you can get."

Phinney also credited van Garderen with keeping him in contention, and with enough energy to go for the last sprint. But it wasn't to be, as he was narrowly beaten. Phinney will now prepare for this week's cycling time trials. And he'll try to put Saturday's near-miss behind him.

"It's a good result for our team, but not necessarily what we wanted," he said.

Our original post continues:

The main group included Britain's sprinter Mark Cavendish and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, who took a turn at the head of the main pack late in the race, in an attempt to reach the breakaway.

Team Great Britain had planned for Wiggins to lead Cavendish, a devastatingly fast sprinter, into the final stretch and to a gold medal. But that plan was dashed when the breakaway group maintained a gap. Wiggins eventually faded to the back of the peloton.

With less than 10 miles to go, Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland was leading the breakaway group through a pair of turns when he went too wide and crashed into a barrier. He rejoined the race but finished well out of the running.

The race lasted nearly six hours.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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