Tenacious Jack Bauer picked up a hard-earned silver medal in the men’s road race today.
Bauer is a favourite with cycle fans who don’t even know him because he shares the same name as Kiefer Sutherland’s character in the hit drama “24”.
They’d have been pleased with how he went today.
The 140 starters had to contend with torrential rain for part of their journey and conditions were so hazardous the riders had to be really careful on some of the sharp corners.
Bauer, 29, looked good throughout, and got into in a breakaway group of three – along with Welshman Geraint Thomas and Englishman Scott Thwaites - near the end.
It became clear the three would be dividing the medals between themselves. Then 11km from the end, Thomas rode away to sew up the gold medal, though he did have a scare six kilometres from the finish when he punctured.
Bauer and Thwaites were left to dispute the silver and the Englishman led out in the final sprint, before Bauer came through and took him on the line.
Thomas won in 4h 13min 05s, giving him a margin of 1min 21s over Bauer and Thwaites.
For Bauer, the medal came as welcome relief after some near misses.
The man from Takaka is well-respected on the European professional tours, riding for American team Garmin-Sharp. In the Tour de France this year he went excruciatingly close to winning stage 15. For 222 kilometres he was in a breakaway group of two, but was caught when only 50 metres from the finishing line.
Bauer has compiled a solid CV of performances in major races, without getting among the medals. He was 10th in the road race at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and also at the 2012 London Olympics. He has won stages on tours in Europe and has always appealed as a medal contender at a games.
But in the road race – more than four hours of strength-sapping racing – anything can happen. It worked out for Bauer.
The other New Zealander to finish the race, Greg Henderson, was seventh in 4h 18min 20s.
Tom Scully, Shane Archbold, Jesse Sergent and Michael Northey pulled out when their jobs were done.
In the women’s race, Linda Villumsen finished fifth, only three seconds outside the bronze.
Villumsen, who won the road time trial gold medal a few days ago, was always well placed and came on strongly towards the end.
She could do nothing about the two Englishwomen who headed the field, Lizzie Armistead and Emma Pooley, but finished just behind South African Ashley Pasio and Australian Tiffany Cromwell.
Armistead won in 2h 38min 43s. Villumsen was timed at 2h 39min 57s – 1min 14s behind the gold medallist.
There were five other New Zealanders in the race and they finished in a bunch at 2h 44min 12s. Joanne Kiesanowski crossed in ninth place, Emily Collins 10th, Rushlee Buchanan 15th, Reta Trotman 16th and Jaime Nielsen 17th.
There were 63 starters.