- 30 Aug 1960
- Rome 1960
Kapitonov clinches men's road race
The Soviet Union won its first cycling title thanks to the exemplary fitness of Viktor Kapitonov, who made two desperate sprints to the finishing line in the course of the same race!
Kapitonov had taken part in the 1956 Games, but had not really been in contention for a medal. Four years later, in Rome, he was a much more competitive athlete and he enjoyed his first success in the 100km team time trial.
With Italy and Germany some way ahead of the chasing pack, the Soviet team was never in contention for a top-two finish, but Kapitonov’s dynamic finish helped them to claim the bronze, more than 30 seconds ahead of the Netherlands.
Bolstered by that performance, Kapitonov went in search of even greater success in the men's road race, run over 12 laps of a loop that extended for more than 14km.
Germany's Gustav-Adolf Schur, world champion in both 1958 and 1959, was strongly favoured by many, but he had a poor race and rarely featured at the front. Instead, just before the halfway mark, the lead was held by two Dutch riders – Lex van Kreuningen and Jan Hugens. However, they were reeled in by a chasing pack that including Kapitonov and Italy's Livio Trapè.
The latter two broke away four laps from the end and established a lead over the peloton of nearly a minute. The question now was which of them would win gold.
At the end of the 11th circuit, Kapitonov put his head down and sprinted for the line. He had miscalculated and thought this was the last lap, only to realise his mistake as he crossed. Despite his exertions, he and Trapè remained neck-and-neck for the rest of the loop until Kapitonov again started a sprint for the line. This time it proved decisive, and the Soviet cyclist hung on to win by the narrowest of margins.