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Olympic Games 2012: Olympic Women's Road Race

The women will gather today on The Mall to take on this tricky course, but will climb Box Hill only two times. Will we see a mass sprint at the end?

The Olympics continue and today it is time for the women to go for the Gold!

The race has just started, under wet conditions.

The women were lined up according to the bib numbers, with Great Britain leading the way.

The rain is on and off, but roads are wet.

134km remaining from 140km

The first attack of the day comes from Janildes Fernandes Silva (Brazil), on the approach to Stamford Bridge in West London, but so far there has been no reaction from the peloton.

Fernandes Silva is one of three Brazilians in the field today, and before the start she said that competing alongside her sister Clemilda was "a dream come true." She has a lead of just over 10 seconds but the peloton has shown no real interest in closing her down just yet.

At the start, Clara Hughes said Canada is "ready to roll" She expects and unpredictable race, but is looking forward to the "tunnel of energy" provided by the crowds along the route.

Emma Pooley is behind the race jury car, waiting for the team car to take care of her puncture. Meanwhile she is waving to friendly hometown crowds.

Specialized has given its riders bright neon red bikes and helmets. Evie Stevens and Amber Neben of the USA are using them, and are very easy to spot in the pack.

The course will look familiar, as it is the same as yesterday's men's course. But they will ride the circuit course with Box Hill only twice, and the race is only 140km long.

67 riders were qualified for the race, but only 66 took to the start. This is because Rasa Leleivyte of Lithuania tested positive for EPO earlier, and under Olympic rules, such a rider may not be replaced. (Which is why Fränk Schleck could not be replaced in yesterday's race.)
 

Australia's Amanda Spratt is the next to puncture.

128km remaining from 140km

Fernandes Silva has a 15 second lead on the field.

Who is going to win today, we all ask ourselves.  Here is the Cyclingnews preview of the top five picks for today.

The men may have had perfect weather yesterday, but the women certainly don't have that luck. The roads are very wet, and the turns dangerous. Everyone is being very careful at the moment.

Fernandes Silva is caught now by the field.

They have been underway 30 minutes now. There is much looking around, as if to say, "Who will be the next to attack?"

All four American women are at the front of the peloton now. Lotte Becker of Germany is moving up to join them.

Germany's Judith Arndt is at the back of the field.

Netherlands has moved up to the front as well.

Kristin Amstrong of the US has number 13.  She has turned it upside down, which is supposed to take the bad luck away.

It is, by the way, pouring down rain again. Absolute sheets of water coming down.

Elllen Van Dijk of the Netherlands is now setting the pace.

A crash, with Grete Treier of Estonia and Mei Yu Hasiao of Taiwan.  But both are up and going again.

Sorry, Taipei, not Taiwan.

The peloton passes a lovely pefectly round lake with a fountain in the middle.  There is no lack of wetness today.

The German and Dutch women are continuing to set the pace here, a fairly high pace, too.

114km remaining from 140km

Only 114km still to go. We wonder if the group will just stay together the whole way.

French champion, 20-year-old Pauline Ferrrand Prevot, moves back up to the peloton.

There are five nations with four-rider teams: Great Britain, Netherlands, Germany,  USA and Italy. Then there are 8 nations with three-rider teams: Australia, Sweden, Russia, Canada, Belgium, France, Brazil and South Africa.

There is "pounding rain" at the finish line, Laura Weislo tells us. "Simply torrential."

There are significantly fewer fans along the way today. Part of it is due to the weather, but we think that unfortunately it is also partially due to the lack of popularity of women's cycling.

Defending champion Nicole Cooke is near the front of things.

CN's Laura is at the finish line, dripping and shivering. She says the temperatures have dropped.

Oh, and there is thunder, too. Let's just hope we escape the really nasty things like hail and lightning.

The remainder of the riders are forming one-woman teams. They represent: New Zealand, Cuba, Venezuela, Ukraine, Belarus, China, El Salvador, Denmark, Luxembourg, South Korea, Mexico, Estonia, Thailand, Taipei, Poland, Azerbaijan, Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, Slovenia, Maruitius and Chile.

Van Dijk has jumped from the field.

That certainly woke everyone up, and the pace has picked up again.

Four riders have now gone off in pursuit of Van Dijk.

We now hear that may have been Van Vleuten. But the peloton has gathered everyone in now, anyway.

A number of riders dropping back, apparently with punctures:  Cantele and a German, we think Teutenberg.

102km remaining from 140km

102km to go, and all together again.

Arndt and Teutenberg are now back in the peloton.

Teutenberg, a sprinter, is not particularly looking forward to the climb. "It's not so easy on Box Hill for the sprinters because there are not many riders. You can't get too far back or else there may be no wheels to follow."

100km to go, and we now see all the fans we missed earlier. And the sun has come out!

Noemi Cantele of Italy has punctured again.

At any rate she has had some sort of mechanical issue, and is on her way back to the group again.

Four years ago we were in Beijing, and the podium there was Nicole Cooke (Great Britain) ahead of  Emma Johanssen (Sweden) and Tatiana Guderzo (Italy).  All three are here today.

The sun has again disappeared. We actually now see huge amounts of water on the road.

An Australian rider has taken off, but then is caught again, just like that.

Bronzini is having a mechanical issue and is standing by the side of the road getting help.

At the other end of the field, Kristin Armstrong of the USA has attacked.

But she too is not allowed to get away. Rider after rider is trying to make the decisive move -- and no one is succeeding.

Bronzini is tight behind the team car, trying to work her way back up.

Stevens of the USA is the next to go, but she is joined by a handful of others.

Meanwhile, the Korean rider has crashed on a wet, sharp turn.

The would-be attackers were quickly caught again.

Bronzini is still working her way back up to the field, using up a lot of energy she might otherwise need for a sprint finish.

Bronizini now has a teammate with her and they have just caught the tail end of the field.

They are approaching Box HIll for the first time.

139km remaining from 140km

Arndt is still at the back of the field, which seems to be her usual place, while her German teammate Trixi Worrack is at the front.

A big crash at the back of the field. five or six, with one going into the ditch. It looks like everyone is ok, though.

And of course that shouled have been 91 km still to go....

90km remaining from 140km

Involved in the crash were: the early attacker Janildes, Denielys Garcia (VEN), Korea's Na Ahreum, Thailand's Juthatip Maneephan, and Wan Yiu Jamie Wong of Hong Kong.

Evelyn Stevens of the USA is looking forward to an exciting race today. She doesn't know how the race is going to be or who will win, but she and the team are ready for all possiblities.

Van Dijk takes off again, followed by Cantele and Pooley. No way the peloton will let that trio go....

Gunnewijk is the next to go.  The Dutch really really want Vos to win today.

The pace has really picked up and an Australian rider leads the field past the Dutchwoman.

Three Americans in the first four at the head of the field.

Stevens leads the way up the climb, as the field stretches out.

Ashleigh Moolman of South Africa is right up at the front with the leaders on the climb.

There is a split in the field, as a handful of riders crashed.

84km remaining from 140km

Still no successful attacks. Perhaps on the descent?

Germany has moved up to the front of the chase group.  That's what happens when Arndt hangs around at the end of the field...

And another rider hits the road on a wet turn.

Vos attacks! Shelly Olds of the USA goes with her.

They are caught but there is now a small group of maybe 20, as another Dutch rider jumps.

The gap between this lead group and the followers is large enough for autos to have come in between.

And another Dutch rider goes! It is Van Dijk again.

79km remaining from 140km

Van Dijk has a tidy little gap, but has just been joined by a French rider, Audrey Cordon.

The chasing group has gotten larger, it looks like most of the dropped riders have caught up again.

It is still raining and there are still large puddles on the road. The two leaders now have only a few seconds on the peloton.

The two leaders are now caught and we await our next attack.

75km remaining from 140km

We had expected an almost immediate counter-attack, but aren't getting it.

The Germans are looking for gold here, and think they have everything covered. One for the sprint, two as jokers and the fourth to “provide the right tempo.”
 

Armstrong is just hanging on to the back of the field as they climb.

Pooley setting a very high pace here.

The field enters the town of Dorking.

Belgium is at the front and the field is strung out single file, tearing along as they approach Box HIll. Everyone is fightin for position.

Germany, Netherlands and Italy leading the way over the narrow roads on the approach to the climb.

Hughes leads the way, with Pooley on her wheel. Stevens is up there, too.  They don't appear to actually be on the Box Hill climb, though.

We have a group of about 30 in the front. Van Dijk and Johannson are in there.

Gillow is further back for Australia, and all of the Americans are moving up. Spratt and Martin have been dropped.

Also up front is Pia Sundstedt (FIN).  Van Dijk is pushing the pace again, marked by Neben (we think).

Not Neben, but Stevens.

And it is feed zone time.  Surprising how they can take that on at this high speed.

Coming out of that area, Arndt attacks.

Vos goes with her. Now talk about a high-powered duo!

Those two are caught, but the attacks continue.

63km remaining from 140km

The road is still quite wet. Another attack, this time by Pooley.

The British woman got herself a nice little gap, but the chase behind her is furious.

A Dutch rider down on on a sharp curve, near the front of the field.

It was Gunnewijk. Meanwhile another duo is in the lead.

This looks like Pooley and Evelyn Stevens, with Vos moving up to join them.

It may be Amber Neben instead of Stevens. We aren't getting much official help with identification. But they are caught anway.

More attacks.  Pooley again!

Pooley really putting the hammer down here, But Vos takes control of things and leaps into the lead.

It looks as if Cooke has been dropped.

The sun is out again aas Vos leads a group of 30 or so. Cooke and a Russian pedaling furiously to try and catch the group.

56km remaining from 140km

About 14 seconds back to Cooke.

And the two have now caught the group. Cooke moves right on up towards the front.

All the big names are still in this group.

A German now at the front, perhaps Arndt.

Another crash. Armstrong, Stevens, Sundstedt have gone down on another corner.

And the Netherlands goes again. Who else but Van Dijk.

A tidy little gap for Van Dijk. She is really knocking herself out today.

But once again it is Pooley who leads the chase and catches her.

They are climbing again. These are narrow roads, with very sharp turns, and with all the overhanging trees, the road is still wet.

Neben is driving the race here. Since there are no  race radios, she didn't know that two of her teammates had been dropped in the crash. Stevens was back fairly quickly, but Armstrong has only just now rejoined the group.

Vos goes on the climb, attacking on the steepest part of the second climb up Box Hill.

51km remaining from 140km

LIzzie Armitstead has gone with Vos.

They hit the feed zone again and the attack is over.

Dan Benson talked to Evelyn Stevens this morning.  She said, "I’m so excited. It’s just an incredible opportunity and I’m ready to race. I’ve never raced  a Games before and everyone says they’re different, the field is smaller, but it’s a beautiful course but it all depends on how the women race it.

From what I learnt from watching the men’s race, it’s going to be hard to control. I think every woman out there wants it to be show."

The next attack, possibly a Russian rider?

Canadian Clara Hughes leads the chase.

The Russian is Olga Zabelinskaya.

44km remaining from 140km

She is a time trial expert, and with 44km to go, might have a chance of staying away.

Pooley and Neben have jumped from the field in chase. This is getting to be too much for Vos, who also jumps out. She quickly catches those two and tries to dump them.

Armitstead, Olds, Vos and Zabelinska now together in the lead.

They leave the Box HIll circuit and are now heading back to London.

Germany is one of many countries who missed out on this group and is chasing hard, but this group has the potential to stay away.

38km remaining from 140km

38km to go, and Germany and Italy are leading the chase. The gap is only 14 seconds.

Vos leads the break. She is willing to do almost anything to win here today.

18 seconds for the gap now. The field is working extremely hard to stay in touch.

36km remaining from 140km

The gap has crept up to 23 seconds, and the rain has unfortunately started again.

zabelinskaya is Russian TT champion. She won  Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen in 2010.

It is raining on the riders, but dry at the finish.

Arndt and Johansson leading the furious chase.

Arndt is putting up a strong pace, she too wants a medal today.

33km remaining from 140km

33km and 18 seconds, with two Italians now leading the chase.

Very hard, driving rain at the moment. The gap has dropped but Vos is still going like crazy.

30km remaining from 140km

The gap has not gone down but up! It hit 30 seconds and is now at 27.

The rain seems to have let up slightly. The gaps ping-pongs between 20 and 30 seconds.

Becker and Arndt at the head of the chasing field.

Olds has been dropped from the lead group.

Olds in fact has been passed through the peloton and is struggling to hang on there.

A mechanical for Johansson, which probably puts an end to her medal dreams.

The peloton hits London, all strung out in single file as they fly along.

Teutenberg has moved up near the front, with the Italians lending a hand.

Vos is doing her best to drop her two companions.

26km remaining from 140km

26km and 30 seconds.

25km remaining from 140km

It is raining again, with 25km to go.

The peloton crosses the Thames.

The gap is still creeping up, now at 35 seconds.

And it is still raining.

Big crows here again, as the leaders are in Kingston upon Thames.

20km remaining from 140km

20 km and 30 seconds. Will Vos try to attack out of this group or does she feel she could win the sprint of the trio?

18km remaining from 140km

There were reports that the gap had jumped to 50 seconds, but we now seen it at 40 seconds, with 18km to go.

In case we haven't mentioned it lately, it is still really pouring down rain.

Vos leads the group of three. Now she falls back, as all three are taking their turn. We doubt the other two will work with much longer, though.

Armstrong at the rear of the peloton.

All three leaders take a quick peek backwards to see whehre the others are. They successfully negotiate the corner where Fabian Cancellara yesterday came to grief.

Several riders in the field have problems at the corner but no one crashes.

The three leaders aren't working as well together, but they have a reasonably good gap at this point.

12km remaining from 140km

Still 23km to go on these soaking wet roads.

45 seconds now.

The chasers are riding furiously but we think that at this point even they know their efforts are in vain.

Pia Sundstedt of Finland takes off out of the field.

8km remaining from 140km

8km and 44 seconds. Another Russian crashes in the field.

Vos glares at the passing moto.

Under six km to go.

Now a Belgian rider, Lisbet De Vocht, has set out in chase of the leading trio.

Vos has still not yet made a move. Perhaps she is counting on her strong sprint.

The three are still taking turns in the lead work.

The peloton has seen the light, so to speak, and realize they won't catch these three.

That is not stopping various riders from trying to jump, though.

3.5km and the three leader are still calmly riding along.

Vos starts glancing around.

Vos takes a short spell in the lead, and as she drops back with 1.6km, Zabelinskaya takes off. Or at least tries to.

Armitstead has been on third wheel for a long time now, saving up strength for the sprint.

Last km!

They take the final curve -- the sprint may start!

Vos takes off at 150m, and holds on for the win!

Armitstead came close but was unable to catch the Dutchwoman. Zabelinskaya was third a few seconds back.

Congratulations to Vos, who seems to have now broken her streak of second place finishes!

Vos wipes a mixture of rain and tears from her face.

Teutenberg led the peloton across the finish line 27 seconds after Vos.

This is of course Vos' second Olympic gold medal, although her first on the road. She won gold for the points race on the track in Beijing in 2008.

Yesterday's winner of the men's race Alexander Vinokourov may have been a surprise, but today's winner certainly was not.

Here the top ten from today:

1 Marianne Vos (Netherlands) 3:35:29
2 Elizabeth Armitstead (Great Britain) 3:35:29
3 Olga Zabelinskaya (Russian Federation) 3:35:31
4 Ina Teutenberg (Germany) 3:35:56
5 Giorgia Bronzini (Italy) 3:35:56
6 Emma Johansson (Sweden) 3:35:56
7 Shelley Olds (United States of America) 3:35:56
8 Pauline Ferrand Prevot (France) 3:35:56
9 Liesbet De Vocht (Belgium) 3:35:56
10 Aude Biannic (France) 3:35:56

Congratulations once again to our three medal winners.

Thanks for reading along and be sure to join us again on Wednesday for the Olympic time trials.

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