HADLEIGH FARM, United Kingdom: Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic won the men's Olympic mountain bike gold after an epic seven-lap race which left Swiss Nino Schurter in a close second place Sunday.
Italian Marco Fontana finished third to take the bronze at 25 seconds behind Kulhavy's winning time of 1hr 29min 07sec.
Julien Absalon's dream of winning a third consecutive gold was ended when the French defending champion punctured early on the seven-lap race.
But even before that mishap, Schurter and Kulhavy were expected to be in the fight for the medals.
The pair were among a leading group of riders who, as early as the first lap, left many of their rivals trailing with a ferocious pace over the technical Hadleigh Farm site.
World champion Kulhavy, Schurter and Fontana turned the screw in the final few laps and after a brief attack by the Italian on the last lap, the Czech and the Swiss pulled away.
Kulhavy and Schurter attacked each other several times on the way up the final climb and it was the Swiss who crested going into the descent which would lead to the final, small climb before the finish line.
The Czech, however, pulled ahead of Schurter on the way around the Olympic rings on the grass to leave the Swiss in his wake by a few bike lengths at the finish.
Schurter had won bronze in Beijing behind Absalon and his fellow Frenchman Jean-Christophe Peraud.