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Time trial champion powers to Olympic gold

Keystone

Fabian Cancellara has claimed the first gold medal for Switzerland at the Beijing Olympics, winning the men's individual cycling race against the clock.

This content was published on August 13, 2008 - 10:57

The two-time trial world champion came in 33 seconds ahead of Gustav Larsson of Sweden and more than a minute ahead of American Levi Leipheimer who finished third.

"It was a really, really tough race. Now is the moment to be happy and proud that I won," the 27-year old Swiss said.

In the first half of the race, he kept switching leads with Alberto Contador. But the Spanish rider dropped off in the final lap and finished fourth.

By the halfway point, Cancellara had already overtaken Stefan Schumacher of Germany – arguably his biggest rival after the German beat him in both the Tour de France time trial stages this year.

Towards the end of the Olympic race it was Cancellara's CSC teammate Larsson who looked set for victory. But the Swiss rider made up nearly 40 seconds on the last 12.6km stretch of the race.

Exhausted

"It will take much more than 50km to realise what I did," said Cancellara after staggering off his bike and collapsing into barriers while trainers poured water over him.

He said he reached speeds of up to 80km per hour on the downhill sections, but it was the long, tough uphill that taxed most of the riders.

Thirty-nine riders from 29 countries took part in the competition, which consisted of two laps of a hilly circuit between sections of the Great Wall of China.

It is Cancellara's second medal at the Games after he won a bronze in the road race on Saturday.

His gold brings Switzerland's medal tally at the Games to three so far. Karin Thürig won bronze in the women's individual time trial event on Wednesday.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Gold: Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) 1 hour, 2 minutes, 11.43 seconds
Silver: Gustav Larsson (Sweden)+ 33.36 seconds
Bronze: Levi Leipheimer (US)+ 1 minute 9.68 seconds

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Fabian Cancellara

Olympic gold medal winner Fabian Cancellara was born in Bern in 1981, and became a professional road bicycle racer in 2001.

He has two UCI World Championship Time Trial rainbow jerseys to his name (2006 and 2007).

Cancellara managed to hold on to the leader's yellow jersey for seven days in the 2007 Tour de France.

The cyclist won the under-23 championship individual time trial in 1999, and the Paris-Roubaix race in 2006.

Cancellara joined Team CSC in 2006.

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