Fabian Cancellara rolled back the years to win a second Olympic time trial gold on Wednesday as Chris Froome had to settle for bronze in Rio.
Froome was bidding to emulate Sir Bradley Wiggins by winning the Tour and Olympic gold in the same year, after taking time trial bronze behind his compatriot four years ago.
Wiggins won London 2012 gold ten days after becoming the first British winner of the Tour, while Froome was in action 17 days after riding into Paris in the yellow jersey for a third time.
But Cancellara, in his final season and winner of Olympic gold in Beijing eight years ago, had other ideas.
The 35-year-old Swiss, who won the last of his four world titles in 2010, completed the 54.5-kilometres course in one hour 12 minutes 15.42 seconds.
Froome finished in 1hr 13mins 17.54secs to place third, behind Tom Dumoulin of Holland, who took silver in 1:13:02.83.
Froome had taken the sole British place, until Geraint Thomas’ late inclusion following a spate of crashes in last Saturday’s road race prompted the withdrawals of Australia’s Richie Porte and Vincenzo Nibali of Italy. Thomas finished ninth in 1:14:52.85.
Dumoulin, who won two stages of the Tour, but also suffered a fractured wrist, quit the road race almost as soon as it had started to save himself for the time-trial.
And Rohan Dennis of Australia was another contender.
The course, featuring two laps of the undulating Grumari circuit, was a challenging one which was expected to suit Froome.
But Cancellara had other ideas, storming to a farewell gold by 47 seconds from Dumoulin, with Froome more than a minute behind.
It was a day for veterans as Kristin Armstrong, who is 43 on Thursday, won the women’s time-trial for a third time.
Britain’s Emma Pooley was bitterly disappointed after a lowly finish behind Kristin Armstrong.
Pooley quit cycling after the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but was persuaded to come out of retirement by the hilly nature of the 29.8-kilometres time trial route at Pontal.
But the 33-year-old could finish only 14th as the United States’ Armstrong won in 44 minutes 26.42 seconds. Pooley clocked 46mins 31.98secs.