Challenging conditions for road race

29 July 2012 / 13:33

A clap of thunder and rain welcomed Great Britain's women to the start line for the London 2012 Olympic Games cycling road race.

Defending champion Nicole Cooke, who won in teeming rain by the Great Wall of China four years' ago, was joined in the squad for the 140-kilometre road race by Lizzie Armitstead, Emma Pooley and Lucy Martin.

After Mark Cavendish finished 29th on The Mall on day one, Britain were seeking to move on from the disappointment in a route which featured two ascents of Surrey's Box Hill.

While Cavendish was the leader for Britain in the men's race, the women's squad has options, with Cooke and Armitstead the team leaders and Pooley and Martin having the potential to surprise.

There was a pedestrian opening to the men's race, but the women's was aggressive from the start.

Brazil's Janildes Fernandes Silva accelerated away on her own in the opening kilometres, while Pooley had to chase back to the main bunch after a mechanical problem forced her to change her rear wheel.

Treacherous conditions on wet roads led to vigilance from the peloton and Britain, but the pace was kept high to try to keep attacks to a minimum.

Fernandes Silva's early attack was thwarted, before Holland's Ellen van Dijk launched an attack with more than 100km of racing remaining, going ahead alone.

Counter-attacks immediately began as an hour of racing elapsed.

Numerous riders required attention towards the back of the peloton, with wheel changes and stoppages, but Britain were relatively unscathed.