Tokyo Olympics

SA cyclist Nic Dlamini proud of Olympic effort: 'It was a hot, demanding day'

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South Africa's Nicholas Dlamini (middle) in cycling road race at Olympics
South Africa's Nicholas Dlamini (middle) in cycling road race at Olympics
Tim de Waele/Getty Images

South African cyclist Nic Dlamini was proud of his effort despite not finishing the men's cycling road race at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.

Dlamini, who was making his Olympic debut for the country, was part of a five-man breakaway in the gruelling 234km race.

The 25-year-old held his line with the leading pack with less than 100km to go before the 33-degree weather took a toll on the demanding event, which saw 130 riders compete.

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Dlamini faded less than 40km on the approach to the finish at Fuji International Speedway, outside Tokyo.

Ecuador's Richard Carapaz won Olympic gold with a tactical performance, while Belgium's silver medallist Wout van Aert (6:05:26) snapped silver in a photo finish as reigning Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia picked up bronze. 

Dlamini struggled through the strenuous race as he failed to reach the finish line. 

"It was our plan to get someone in the breakaway and anticipate the race with two guys in the peloton," said Dlamini after his performance.

"It was an open race. I've been in breakaways before … I started out at the front and we sort out went from there, but it was a hot and demanding day.

"Getting in the breakaway in the Olympics is quite a big, great thing."

Fellow countryman Ryan Gibbons also did not finish, while South Africa's Stefan de Bod ended 52nd in a time of 6:16:53. 

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When Dlamini was in the five-rider leading pack, South Africans had just woken up and turned to watch the Capetonian and shared their delight on social media.

Despite not finishing, Dlamini was chuffed with his performance.

"We can be proud of the race itself. We're all young and Olympics is a quite hard race, especially this edition," he said.

"I thank and appreciate their support of myself, Ryan Gibbons and Stefan de Bod; we do appreciate the support from back home. It's been an incredible day and now I'm just going to go sleep."

It's a busy few weeks for Dlamini, where he participated in his maiden Tour de France earlier this month - crashing out in the 10th stage.

"The last six weeks has been super busy, I feel mentally tired and physically tired so I'll probably take things a little easy." 

*Lynn Butler is in Tokyo covering the Olympics for Sport24.

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