World champion Mark Cavendish claimed Great Britain have become victims of their own success after rival teams appeared content to see him lose the Olympic road race, rather than win it themselves.
Cavendish, a winner of 23 Tour de France stages, was among the favourites for the 250-kilometre event, which included nine ascents of Surrey’s Box Hill.
But his adversaries conspired against the British team and the 27-year-old from the Isle of Man finished 29th, 40 seconds behind, as controversial Kazakh Alexandr Vinokourov triumphed on The Mall, with Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran second and Norway’s Alexander Kristoff third.
“It seems like most teams are happy not to win as long as we don’t win,” Cavendish told BBC1.
“It’s the story of our lives in cycling. It shows what a strong nation we are. We’ve got to take the positives from that and take it as a compliment.”