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Jack Bauer 10th in his first Olympics
Jul 29th, 12. In his first Olympic outing, the biggest race of his short career, Jack Bauer did New Zealand proud with his 10th place in today's road race.
It is the best placing for a Kiwi in an Olympic men's road race in at least 20 years, say NZOC.
Bauer, in his maiden year as a world-tour professional, smartly chose the right move to follow when he joined Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) and Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) in an attack halfway through the 250km race.
His group bridged to an earlier breakaway bunch and stayed away from the Great Britain led peloton for the rest of the race.
The 27 year old Kiwi stayed close to the front of the action as they rode up and over the spectator packed Box Hill circuit.
It was Greg Henderson who went into this event holding the medal hopes of New Zealand, but when he became unwell during the race - eventually pulling out - attention turned to Bauer.
Henderson said he was bitterly disappointed with the way the day played out.
“I thought this was really set up for me today with this course. I had an upset stomach this morning and through the race, and it got worse," he told NZOC. “It got to the stage where I had to have an emergency toilet stop. That’s never happened before. I did not feel that well and had dropped off the back and so I had no choice but to withdraw. I’m really gutted. This meant so much to me.”
With Henderson out of the picture, the London announcers knew Bauer was a Kiwi still worth watching. They told the estimated one million viewers who lined the course that Bauer, who they knew from his two years racing with British Endura Racing team, could be a dark horse in the finale.
In the final run from Box Hill back to The Mall, he stayed at around 5th wheel, close enough to keep an eye on the attacks, but not close enough to the front to be forced to do too much work.
After two riders broke free, eventual winner Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakstan) and 2nd placed Rigoberto Uran (Colombia), Bauer sprinted for the final podium position. He worked his way up through the bunch to finish 10th - just a few pedal strokes away from the podium. An incredible result for a rookie!
"It would have been nice to get a medal, but I was really struggling with 20km to go. Hydration is always hard and I started cramping pretty badly. I'm happy," he told NZOC.
Bauer is back in action on Wednesday when he will contest his goal event - the 44km time trial.
Tomorrow attention turns to the women's road race where Linda Villumsen is the sole Kiwi representative. Like Bauer, her focus is the time trial event, but she should not be underestimated in the road race either.
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