Armitstead weathers storm to grab silver

29 July 2012 / 19:23

Lizzie Armitstead overcame the elements to claim Great Britain's first medal of the London 2012 Olympic Games with women's road race silver.

The 23-year-old from Otley finished runner-up to prolific winner Marianne Vos of Holland in the 140km road race, which featured two ascents of Box Hill, as once again a cyclist proved to be an Olympic trailblazer for Britain.

Jason Queally claimed gold on day one of the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Sir Chris Hoy the first gold of the Athens Games and Nicole Cooke won the opening medal with victory in the women's road race in Beijing four years' ago.

Asked if she had lost the gold or won the silver, Armitstead said: "I won the silver. I'm just so happy that I committed to the breakaway. I was there with Marianne Vos and she's the best rider in the world on most kinds of courses.

"My only regret is that I didn't try to jump her earlier in the sprint. She is faster than most of the girls on the circuit so I'm pretty chuffed with silver."

It was a gutsy ride in a pulsating three-and-a-half-hour race which was aggressive from the start. Armitstead revelled in the conditions and was part of the crucial four-rider break, 45km from the finish, initiated by Zabelinskaya, with Vos and Shelley Olds also following.

American Olds punctured to fall back to the main pack and Germany, the United States and others attempted to pull the trio back, but they were able to hold off the charging peloton.

Armitstead added: "I hate racing in the heat. The harsher the conditions the better for me. I've been praying for rain, particularly when we were in the breakaway and there was a real downpour. The break had more chance of working in those conditions."

One disadvantage of the elements was the lack of information from race officials, with the rain troubling the man on the motorbike providing the time checks.

Armitstead added: "The guy's pen wasn't working on the whiteboard because of the rain. He was giving us a bit of sign language. The important ones came through and the noise pushed us all the way to finish."