Spain got a well-earned gold as Samuel Sanchez took the sprint over Davide Rebellin and Fabian Cancellara. Spain played a good set of cards, first sending Carlos Sastre in an early break of 25+ riders that panicked teams like USA. USA was forced to burn Zabriskie and then McCartney early on in order to keep the gap on that break under control. When the peloton came back together, Sastre was then able to form the head of a top-class Spanish train: Sastre, Contador, Sanchez, and Valverde. Or as they now refer to themselves: le Tour, Giro-le Tour, Gold, and Spain.
The attrition was high under the assault of the Spanish Armada and even Contador had to pull the cord early, but it was Luxembourg's Andy Schleck that finally broke the race open. A group of twenty-or-so riders went off the front and Schleck attacked to whittle it down to Rebellin, Sanchez, Kolobnev, and Rogers. With some more digs it then became a select group of Schleck, Rebellin, and Sanchez, which looked like it could be the medal podium for the day.
But that was spoiled by the superhero move of the day, which goes to Fabian Cancellara. Michael Rogers and Alexandr Kolobnev were in a chase group behind, but as the kilometers ticked down -- 7km to go, 6km to go, 5km to go -- it just seemed that they would stay out of reach. With 2km to go the chase camera behind Rogers and Kolobnev suddenly panned back: Fabian Freakin' Cancellara, screaming across the gap! The TT champ's horsepower shot them across the gap to catch the leaders with 1km to go. It made for a tighter sprint and in the end it was Schleck who lost out as Cancellara rocketed to a podium position (sorry Luxembourg).
Leipheimer and Vande Velde were Team USA's best shots at a podium position. They both made the group of twenty that went away at the end, but neither could bridge up to the attack of Schleck. Leipheimer worked hard to bridge back to Vande Velde after being dropped, but the chase group lacked proper motivation with the likes of Alejandro Valverde, Cadel Evans and Paolo Bettini hanging on.