David McCann was the best placed Irish rider in the Olympic Men’s Road Race finishing 55th behind a breakaway of 25 riders who decided the medals on The Mall in London.
The gold medal went to Alexandr Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) who drew the curtain on his career with a solo win after the escape group fractured on the run into the finish.
Rigoberto Uran Uran (Columbia) took the silver medal while Alexander Kristoff (Norway) won the sprint from the group of 23 riders behind to claim the bronze medal.
McCann, Roche and Martin followed just 40 seconds later as part of the peloton containing pre-race favourite Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) who had to settle for a disappointing 29th.
The 250 kilometre long race was full of attacks with the first group of nine riders going clear on the run out to the first of nine laps over Box Hill.
That group containing Kristoff, Stuart O’Grady (Australia), Lieuwe Westra (Netherlands), Fumiyuki Beppu (Japan), Denis Menchov (Russia), Tim Duggan (USA), Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain), Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia), Michael Schar (Switzerland) and Sungbaek Park (Korea) had 5’27” in hand over the first ascent.
They were joined by a second escape group on the seventh lap with some of the new arrivals at the head of the race including Philippe Gilbert (Belgium), Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) and Taylor Phinney (USA) among others.
The Great Britain team looked to have matters under control as they held the gap at 45 seconds on the final lap but a succession of attacks spelled the beginning of the end for Cavendish’s hopes of crowning glory.
The Irish riders continued to bank of the British team regaining control but were also too far back to respond to a move which saw Vinokourov, Uran Uran, Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland), Luis Leon Sanchez and Alejandro Valverde bridge to the leaders before the riders completed the circuit.
They stretched their lead to 1’05” as a dramatic pursuit unfolded on the return leg to London and when Cancellara crashed out of the break fortune shined on Vinokourov.
He jumped clear with Uran Uran in the final seven kilometres and made light of the finish, sweeping past the Columbian as he looked over his left shoulder to assess the gap to the chasers.
Roche finished 87th with Martin just one place behind as all three Irish riders joined the lost list of contenders left to reflect on what could have been.
Olympic Men's Road Race, London, 250 kilometers
1. Alexandr Vinokurov (Kazakhstan) 5:45:57
2. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Colombia)
3. Alexander Kristoff (Norway) 0:00:08
4. Taylor Phinney (United States of America)
5. Sergey Lagutin (Uzbekistan)
6. Stuart O'grady (Australia)
7. Jurgen Roelandts (Belgium)
8. Gregory Rast (Switzerland)
9. Luca Paolini (Italy)
10. Jack Bauer (New Zealand)
55. David McCann (Ireland)
87. Nicolas Roche (Ireland)
88. Daniel Martin (Ireland)