In the first 167.3 kilometres of the men's road race, the New Zealand team rode a perfect race.

In the last kilometre, they fell apart, with Australia staging a dramatic snatch and grab to claim gold, and leaving New Zealand with nothing to show for their efforts.

That's how you end with the impressive, yet ultimately disappointing scenario, of six Kiwi riders finishing in the top 16, with none of them claiming a medal.

Such is life in cycling sometimes, with the Kiwis getting swamped in the sprint by Australian Steele von Hoff, who claimed a remarkable victory - winning gold just seven weeks after breaking his spine.

Advertisement

His success, you can explain - von Hoff was one of the fastest men in the field - but more surprising was the make-up of the other medals, with the little-known duo of Wales' Jonathan Mould and South African Clint Hendricks claiming silver and bronze respectively.

Hendricks edged a photo finish for bronze, getting home ahead of the Kiwi pair of Hayden McCormick (fifth) and Shane Archbold (sixth).

Further back were Sam Gaze (10th), James Oram (11th) and Jack Bauer (13th), while Jason Christie led in the second group of riders to finish in 16th.

To head home empty handed was heartbreaking for a team who had ripped the race to shreds in the final lap. Gaze and Oram attacked on one of the climbs, creating an elite group of 13 which consisted of five Kiwis, with no other country having more than two representatives.

As a result, they used their numerical advantage wisely, sending attacks up the road, and making sure that every break had at least one member wearing the silver fern embedded amongst it.

Bauer went off the front but was brought back, and with three kilometres to go, a trio got up the road, which included Oram, and Aussie time trial gold medalist Cameron Meyer. However, while Oram could have potentially gone all the way to the line, Bauer felt they were best placed to deliver Archbold in the sprint.

"It looked like Meyer was the fastest finisher in that group, so I closed the gap down and from then on it was up to Shane to do what he could."

Archbold, who was in tears after the race, went early - attacking on the final climb with just over a kilometre to go, to try and distance von Hoff. He may have been better off to wait for the sprint finish - he couldn't budge the Aussie - and then ran out of gas in the final sprint as the Kiwis came up short of the medals.

In the end, a mix of emotions were appropriate, and that's how Bauer felt after the race.

"We're all disappointed - we brought a strong team here, a motivated team. We took five guys into the last lap and it's embarrassing to come up with nothing, but we gotta live with it.

"We were beaten by a better team, and by the fastest man on the line. Credit to Steele von Hoff, he put his boys to work all day. They delivered him straight to the line.

"We did all that we could on the final lap, that's the way we had to play it, but we couldn't shake Von Hoff, he was climbing with the best of us. It's pretty fair and square. It was disappointing, but that's cycling."

Gaze, who was supremely impressive on the road after his dramatic mountain biking gold, was proud of his team's efforts.

"We gave it a good try today, its always very complicated and very hard to read how a race is going to be. We tried to make the race hard, I tried a few times to split everything up, we came to the end of the race and they had a really strong Australian."

Gaze noted that there was lots to be proud of, and he has a valid point, but history forgets the details, and the men couldn't add to Georgia Williams' silver medal earlier in the day.

"I really don't think we could have played it any differently," lamented Bauer.

"We were beaten by a stronger team, a team which dedicated themselves to one guy, and he delivered.

"You gotta say - hats off."