Favourites miss the move

The group of five which fought out the battle for the medals in the women's Olympic road race was lacking a few big names: notably former world champion Marianne Vos of the Netherlands who took sixth a dozen seconds behind the three medalists, Christiane Soeder (Austria) and Linda Villumsen Serup (Denmark). The 21-year-old was a favourite for medals in both the road race, points race and time trial but missed out on the move that went in the final lap.

"It's not fun, but it's no disaster. There are two more opportunities," Vos said on rabosport.nl. "At the moment the decisive attack came I was not in a good way. It was not a mistake, but simply a bad moment. The five in front were the best on the course. On this course and under these conditions nobody can steal a medal. The best automatically rise above."

Athens gold medalist Sara Carrigan of Australia was disappointed to add "former" to her title. "Former Olympic champion – it's a little bit sad (to hear)," Carrigan said to AFP. "I felt good on the first climb but on the second climb I just didn't quite have it to go with the leaders, and that was my race over."

2004 silver medalist Judith Arndt did her part to try to bring back the escape group in the final kilometres, then trailed in more than a minute behind. Trixi Worrack was Germany's top finisher in 20th. Arndt said the deluge made the race more difficult. "I felt like I was a paddleboat," said the German. "I'm very disappointed. We wanted a medal."

The Americans had a strong team on paper, with Kristin Armstrong, a former world time trial champion, Amber Neben, the winner of last year's Route de France Feminine and Christine Thorburn. But bad luck plagued the red, white and blue clad squad throughout the race.

Armstrong was one of many to crash as the race entered the two hilly circuits, but got up and rode to her country's top finish in 25th. Neben was the best placed of the team in the finale, but dropped her chain just before the winning move went clear.

"The race was just starting to go hard," said Neben of the ill-timed mishap. "It was about time to set off the fireworks. Unfortunately, I wasn't there. It was hard to just watch the race roll away. I fought to try and get back, but when it goes hard and you miss it by that many seconds it's just too much. That's bike racing."

The Americans were expecting conditions similar to what the men experienced on Saturday, but when cold, rainy weather took hold it did not work to their advantage.

"Our team is the best with attrition," Armstrong explained. "I think with hot, humid weather making the race hard from the beginning, it would have been the Americans' race. It's not very often we're in rain this hard and there were a lot of puddles on the road, so we were going through a lot of dangerous conditions."

Armstrong and Thorburn will get a second chance on Wednesday when they contest the time trial. Great Britain announced that Cooke and Pooley will represent that country in the race against the clock, and Vos will step in for the Netherlands after weeks of uncertainty.

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