Lizzie Armitstead “a bit shocked” to take the host nation’s first medal in London 2012
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lizzie Armitstead “a bit shocked” to take the host nation’s first medal in London 2012

by Ben Atkins at 7:20 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Olympics
 
Great Britain rider unable to outsprint Marianne Vos but over the moon with silver

lizzie armitsteadAfter race favourite Mark Cavendish was unable to get a result in the men’s road race the day before, Great Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead delivered the host nation’s first medal in the women’s event today. The 23-year-old from Yorkshire, in the north of England, was part of a three-rider break that had escaped towards the end of the second of two laps of the course’s hilly Box Hill circuit, and sprinted to second place behind World number one Marianne Vos of the Netherlands.

“It’s just really strange, I feel like, I don’t know… I’m a bit shocked,” she told the BBC TV cameras immediately after the race.

Where Great Britain’s tactics had come unstuck the day before, Armitstead’s team - of defending champion Nicole Cooke, Emma Pooley and Lucy Martin - managed to shape the race as they wanted it. Armitstead chased down an attack from Russia’s Olga Zabelinskaya, and they and Vos managed to stay away to the finish.

“Emma [Pooley] did exactly as asked on Box Hill,” Armitstead explained. “I needed an aggressive race, and I'm so glad I committed to that break. I was umming and aahing but I'm happy. I should've jumped earlier [in the sprint] but never mind.

“We discussed before - I saw in the men’s race - that they’re fast roads coming in, but once you’ve got a committed group in the front it’s pretty hard for them in the back, so I just went with it and I’m so happy it came off!”

The breakaway had originally included the United States’ Shelley Olds but, after the 31-year-old sprinter had suffered a puncture and dropped back to the peloton, the three remaining riders were all guaranteed a medal each; providing they could hold off the peloton.

At the finish it was - as expected - Vos who was the fastest, and the Dutchwoman took her second Olympic gold, to add to that of the Points Race from Beijing four years ago.

"She was the one to watch, and I knew that before the race, so I was following her around,” said Armitstead. “We got in a break early on, but I thought it was too early to work with her, so I played the tactic there, and just waited.”

Like the men had experienced the day before, the women’s peloton raced in front of crowds numbering hundreds of thousands and, with most of them British, the support for Armitstead had been enormous.

“It’s the most special thing I’ve ever experienced in my life,” she said. “It was crazy, it was so, so inspiring, and I didn’t even feel my legs; it was amazing.”

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