Brent Bookwalter

Belgium's Van Avermaet prevails in brutal Olympic road race

Moments after crossing the finish line, Greg Van Avermaet lamented the many times he'd fallen just short and all the close calls that have marked his cycling career.

Then, he climbed to the top step of the Olympic podium and claimed a gold medal.

The popular Belgian out-sprinted Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark and Rafal Majka of Poland on the long run to the finish at Copacabana Beach on Saturday, winning a chaotic men's Olympic road race marked by brutal climbs, withering heat and a crash involving the leaders on the final harrowing descent. The rough conditions vanquished multiple Tour de France winners and left plenty of riders with scrapes, bruises and bloody road rash.