Sprint Finish: Lizzie Armitstead Lands a Second Place Finish in the Women’s Road Race
The morning dawned on day two in London with more uncharacteristic sunshine and the promise of a spectacular women’s road race on the horizon.
That promise was upheld by the 66 riders representing 35 different countries across all 140-kilometers of the grueling race, the weather however, was a different story. Adding to intensity of this fiercely competitive field, the weather took a turn for worst leaving riders to contend with hearty wind gusts and pelting rain while navigating the already perilous course.
One of the favorites going into the race, Marianne Vos of the Netherlands, was able to capitalize on the work of Dutch teammates Ellen van Dijk and Loes Gunnewijk who wore down the other teams in the peloton and laid the foundation for the bunch to break away.
Vos was joined by other race leaders Lizzi Armitstead of the UK, Shelley Olds of the United States and Olga Zabelinskaya of Russia. Together, they shared the workload to earn and maintain a lead of nearly 40 seconds after the final decent of Box Hill.
Things may have played out differently if Olds had not been the victim of an untimely flat with 29 kilometers left in the race, but thus was the tale of the day. The race proved one of the most exciting races in the sports recent history as teams executed aggressive attacks throughout the technical course all while the flooded roads made crashes and punctures a regular, if unfortunate, occurrence.
The bunch pace proved to be uncatchable and led straight into a sprint to the finish for Vos, Armitstead and Zabelinskaya.
The final kilometers witnessed a test of pure strength and determination as Vos and Armitstead fought it out side-by-side in a race for first place. Armitstead was perfectly positioned on Vos’s wheel at the beginning of the sprint, but ultimately Vos proved the stronger of the two, fending-off the final attack by Armistead.
It was vindication for Armitstead nevertheless, who at 23 years old found herself on the podium during her first appearance in the Summer Games. Vos and Armitstead were joined by Olga Zabelinskaya in third rounding out the victors and bringing the Women’s Road Race to a dramatic close.