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Marianne Vos crowned Olympic champion
Jul 30th, 12. Marianne Vos added Olympic gold to her already impressive palmares when she outsprinted the home crowd favourite in today's Olympic road race in London.
The 25 year old from the Netherlands was already a five time World Cyclo-Cross Champion, two time World Track Champion, one time Olympic track champion, one time World Road Champion but five time (the last five) runner-up at the World Road Championships.
Today she made sure she didn't get second again when she won the 140km race ahead of Elizabeth Armitstead (Great Britain) and Olga Zabelinskaya (Russia).
After breaking her collarbone in May, today was an emotional win for Vos who is ranked No1 in the UCI ranking and is the current leader of the UCI World Cup competition.
“I waited for this for such a long time, and the preparation was not completely flawless either and if you end up finishing in first place anyway, it’s obviously great. It is unbelievable. What I am feeling right now is indescribable," she said on her team website.
The podium trio, plus USA's Shelley Olds broke free from the peloton on the second, and last, lap of the Box Hill circuit.
Unfortunately for Olds, a fast finisher, she went on to puncture right at the worst time and saw her medal hopes ride away from her with a little more than 30km to go.
“I was on (Marianne) Vos' wheel after the descent there was a little climb,” explained Olds. “I knew she was going to attack there; I could feel it. I was on her wheel and she attacked really hard and I followed. I knew it was the winning move.”
Olds said she was devastated to puncture out of contention, “I'm really devastated because I believe I definitely could have medalled. That was the winning move and I was in it.”
The orange colour of the Netherlands team kit was visible early in the race where Vos' teammates were a common sight attacking the front of the 66 rider peloton once they entered the Box Hill circuit.
Along with the Dutch, the American and the Great Britain riders had turns attacking the field, but until the later winning move, no-one got more than a few seconds in front before being reeled back.
It made for a very exciting road race, rewarding the packed roads where specators came out in their thousands to watch despite the miserable weather.
Further back in the race, the speed took its toll and the peloton reduced down to around 45 riders.
Once the leading trio were out front, the rain, which had hit at the start of the race, came back with a vengence and a number of riders - including NZ's Linda Villumsen - slipped and hit the deck or suffered punctures as a consequence.
With three strong teams represented in the break, most of the work to reel them back was left to the Germans, Italians and Americans. They never let the break get more than 50sec ahead of them, but they just didn’t have enough power to reel in the leaders before the iconic finish stretch in front of Buckingham Palace.
In a reverse of yesterday's men's road race - when the local crowd was hoping the break would be caught to set Mark Cavendish up for a win - today the thousands of Great Britain fans lining the roads were hoping the trio could go free.
They got their wish, but not the perfect ending. The winning trio worked hard together and eventually crossed the finish line just 27sec ahead of the lead chasers, but Great Britain's Armistead was 2nd not first. The 23 year old was thrilled to be on the podium though and gave the crowds plenty of waves - much to their delight.
Villumsen, who chose not to take too many risks after her earlier fall, finished safely in 18th place from the chasing bunch. She will be back in action on Wednesday when she contests the 28km time trial. The Kiwi is a three time medallist at World Championship level and is a big hope for a medal at these Olympics.
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