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Armitstead grabs GB’s first medal
12:25am Monday 30th July 2012 in London Olympics 2012 - Latest News
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 140-kilometre 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.
Cooke's success came in torrential rain by the Great Wall of China and Armitstead battled similar conditions in sodden Surrey before sprinting on The Mall, only for Vos to prove too strong with the line in sight. Russia's Olga Zabelinskaya was third.
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. I couldn't see and had to take my glasses off and lost my lucky glasses, but never mind.''
The sunglasses will likely have been collected by one of the thousands of spectators who lined the course despite the inclement weather.
One disadvantage of the elements was the lack of information from officials, with the rain troubling the man on the bike providing 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."