Marianne Vos Wins Olympic Gold in London
Marianne Vos of the Netherlands won the gold medal in the women's road race in a rain-drenched sprint earlier this afternoon, leaving Great Britain's Elizabeth Armitstead with silver and the home country's first medal of the 2012 London Olympics.
Marianne Vos of the Netherlands won the gold medal in the women's road race in a rain-drenched sprint earlier this afternoon, leaving Great Britain's Elizabeth Armitstead with silver and the home country's first medal of the 2012 London Olympics. The average speed of the winner was 38.98 km/h.
Vos, the former world champion, made a daring move past Russia's Olga Zabelinskaya to emerge from the three-rider breakaway. She powered past a small group of fans waving the Dutch flag, then raised her arms in triumph as she crossed the finish line.
Zabelinskaya won bronze after a frantic finish through a driving rain that was reminiscent of four years ago in Beijing, when Britain's Nicole Cooke pulled away late to win gold.
"It was a hard race today with the weather conditions," Vos said, "but then I felt good. We made the race hard with the Dutch squad, early attacks, and that was the plan."
Worked to perfection, not least thanks to strong help from the British team led by Emma Pooley. The British team's tactics included attempting to make the race as fast as possible, thereby hoping to put some of the peloton's pure sprinters in difficulty on the Box Hill climb.
Nobody could blame Vos for the scream she let loose at the finish.
A former Olympic gold medalist in track cycling, Vos had grown accustomed the past few years to finishing just off the top step in major races. She's been silver medalist five straight years at the world championships, and had never stood on the podium in an Olympic road race.
Perhaps fittingly, the clouds broke and the sun shone for the medal ceremony.
"She is a machine," Zabelinskaya said, "and the rest of us are not yet at this high level."
Armitstead accepted the silver medal to cheers from her home crowd, delivering the podium finish that eluded Mark Cavendish and his teammates on the powerhouse men's team the previous day.
While the crowds that turned out didn't nearly reach the estimated 1 million fans who watched Saturday, they were still packed deep along the 87-mile route.
The riders started off on the Mall during one of one of the many showers that plagued the entire race, passing by Buckingham Palace and heading south of London.
Estonian rider Grete Treier was among several riders who crashed on the narrow, slick roads of London early in the race. There were also a number of punctures, including one that slowed reigning time trial silver medalist Pooley of Britain.
Ellen van Dijk, the national time trial champion from the Netherlands, spent the first half of the race trying to open up gaps on the field. Every time she bounced off the front, though, a handful of riders were positioned right behind with orders to bring her back.
Just as in the men's race, Box Hill was where the race took shape.
The first of two trips up the punchy climb in the Surrey countryside broke the field into two groups. One of the riders dropped was Cooke, the defending gold medalist,