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Video - Absalon defends mountain biking title
France's Julien Absalon retained the Olympic men's mountain biking title with an early-race surge that left his rivals trailing in his wake.
Four-time world champion Absalon, 28, made light of sweltering conditions and a tough course to storm to victory.
Team-mate Jean-Christophe Peraud, 31, took silver, with Switzerland's Nino Schurter, 23, securing bronze.
GB's Liam Killeen recovered from a crash on lap one to grab seventh place, with team-mate Oli Beckingsale 12th.
Malvern's Killeen was down in 48th place after his spill in the first two minutes of the race and performed heroically to carve through the field and seal a top-10 finish in 2:00:14.
The Commonwealth gold medallist, 26, who finished fifth in Athens in 2004 after going over his handlebars on the first bend, said: "It was one of those things.
"You can be upright one minute, the next minute you're on the floor. I just had an unfortunate first 300 metres.
"I was trying to battle to the front but unfortunately 40 other guys were trying to do the same thing. I just touched wheels and went off the course into a bit of a gully."
Beckingsale, from Bristol, came home in 2:01:25 to improve on his 17th place at Athens and 23rd place in Sydney 2000.
On a technically demanding 4.5km circuit, even Absalon, who failed to defend his world crown in May, suffered a wobble, nearly falling on lap four.
But that was the only glitch in an otherwise perfect ride, and he came home one minute and seven seconds ahead of Peraud, with Schurter 46 seconds further back.
Absalon kept the gold in French hands for the third Olympics in a row following Miguel Martinez's victory in Sydney.
He vowed he would be gunning for a third gold at London 2012.
"The Olympic Games is a massive motivation for every athlete and four years passes quickly, as it has from Athens to Beijing, so why not?" he said.
"But right now, I just want to savour this gold."