Greg Van Avermaet .jpg
Greg Van Avermaet
Photograph: EPA/YOAN VALAT

Greg Van Avermaet of Belgium captured gold for Belgium in the men's cycling road race at the Olympics on Saturday.

Van Amermaet, 31, beat Denmark's Jakob Fuglsang in a sprint finish, with Rafal Majky of Poland taking bronze.

Italy's Vincenzo Nibali and Colombia's Sergio Henao crashed while in a leading group with Majky on the final descent with some 10 kilometres remaining.

Britain's Geraint Thomas, who had fallen away from the leading trio, also crashed on the same descent.

Majky was left out on his own and was 25 seconds ahead of the chasing group with 5.5 kilometres of the 237km race to go.

Van Avermaet and Fuglsang closed up on a tiring Majky with some 1.3 kilometres remaining, and the Belgian was the stronger over the final metres along the Copacabana with Majky unable to challenge.

"I am so happy for gold. Everyone said all week it was for everyone else," Van Avermaet said.

"When I saw the crash I was confused about how many riders were still up the road. I was working with Fuglsang, and we saw Majka. We knew it was possible. I knew I had to hang on."

Majka said: "I don't know how I did not crash but somehow I made it through. In the end I had such hard cramps in my legs I could barely pedal. When the others caught me I knew that it was impossible to win."

Tour de France winner Christopher Froome of Britain had to settle for 12th, some three minutes off the pace, on what was arguably the toughest road race course at the Olympics.

There was brief scare earlier in the race when police conducted a controlled explosion at an unattended backback near the finish area. But normality soon returned as the pack contained clothes and other goods.

Related stories

Latest news

SpaceX plans to fly two passengers around moon

SpaceX is planning to fly two private citizens around the moon next year, the first manned trip to the Earth's satellite in more than four decades, the private company said Monday.

Key congressman has 'no evidence' of Trump contacts with Russia

The chairman of the US House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee said he is not aware of any evidence of improper contacts between Russian officials and Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

Gambia's new President Barrow fires army chief

Gambia's new President Adama Barrow has sacked army chief Ousman Badjie, replacing him with a presidential military aide.

Star investor Buffett takes a bigger bite of Apple, doubling shares

Stock market guru Warren Buffett on Monday revealed that his investment firm Berkshire Hathaway doubled its share of iPhone producer Apple stocks last month.

Minister: Erdogan not welcome in Austria for referendum campaign

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan should not come to Austria to campaign to Turkish citizens living there ahead of a constitutional reform referendum in his country, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said Monday.

Migrant group: Britain hits 'new low' by deporting grandmother

Britain has hit a "new low" by deporting a grandmother from north-eastern England to Singapore, a migrants' rights group said on Monday.

Turkish judge remands German reporter in custody

A Turkish judge remanded German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel in custody Monday, according to newspaper Die Welt, sparking strong condemnation from the German government.

1.4 million people without water after deadly floods in Chile

More than 1.4 million people were without drinking water in the Chilean capital of Santiago on Monday following catastrophic flooding that left at least three people dead.

Serbia PM says no snap parliamentary election

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Monday that an early parliamentary election would not be held simultaneously with a presidential vote, although the state leadership had announced such a possibility.  

Trump touts 'security budget' with 10-per-cent defence spending hike

US President Donald Trump says he will present a "public security and national security budget" that hikes military spending by 54 billion dollars or about 10 per cent.

National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen fined for Roma comments

The founder of France's far-right National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, had a 5,000-euro (5,300-dollar) fine for inciting racial hatred and discrimination confirmed on appeal on Monday.

Croatia-Montenegro relations example for region, says minister

After meeting Croatian Ambassador Veselko Grubisic in Podgorica on Monday, Montenegrin Defence Minister Predrag Boskovic said that relations between Croatia and Montenegro were very good and could serve as an example to other countries in the region.

Over 31,000 South Sudanese flee fighting and hunger to Sudan

Fleeing escalating fighting and famine in South Sudan, over 31,000 people have arrived in neighbouring Sudan so far this year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said Monday.

SDP urges gov't to pull statement making radical turn in human rights

The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Monday called on the government to take a position on the Croatian foreign policy's turn in human rights, which it said was initiated by Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier, and to withdraw a Foreign Ministry statement on that sent to Brussels.

Police says photoshopped photo of Milanka Opacic motivated by hate

An investigation has proved that a photograph showing Parliament Deputy Speaker Milanka Opacic wearing a shirt with four Cyrillic letters "S" (standing for "only unity saves the Serb", a popular motto and slogan in Serbia and among Serb nationalists) is a photomontage and the police suspect that publishing and distributing the said photo has been motivated by hate and intolerance.

Finance Ministry says didn't analyse HEP's readiness for IPO

The Ministry of Finance on Monday announced that it had not analysed the justification or the readiness of power provider Hrvatska Elektroprivreda (HEP) for an initial public offering with regard to a possible acquisition of Hungarian energy company MOL's stake in Croatia's INA.

Berlin confirms murder of German hostage in the Philippines

Berlin confirmed on Monday the murder of a German hostage by the militant Islamist group Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines with Chancellor Angela Merkel condemning the killing as "barbaric" and "abominable".

Syrian refugees arrive in Italy with help from Christian groups

A group of 50 Syrian refugees, more than half of them children, landed in Italy early Monday, entering the country on humanitarian visas obtained with the help of a lay Catholic NGO, Protestant organizations and the Italian government.