A 31 rider breakaway, including Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Sylvain Chavanel riding for the French Olympic Road Race Team, dwindled down to about 20 riders with less than 10km and a commanding gap of about 57 seconds.
Despite the efforts of Great Britain, Belgium with OPQS rider Stijn Vandenbergh leading Belgian/OPQS teammate Tom Boonen, and OPQS rider Bert Grabsch chasing at the front for his German Olympic squad, the gap simply couldn't be cut down once Switzerland knew Fabian Cancellara was in the breakaway. They moved to the front, making it harder for the gap to be shut down before the 10km mark.
Cancellara, one of the strongest in the break, had an unfortunate crash on a turn just before the 10km mark. This created pure chaos in the breakaway. Two riders — Rigoberto Uran (Colombia) and Alexander Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) — took full advantage by attacking with about 7km to go. The chase group never organized to pull the two back. Vinokourov won the two-up sprint for gold. Alexander Kristoff (Norway) won the bronze in the chase group sprint.
Boonen suffered unfortunate luck in the final 10km, having a mechanical while in the peloton.