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London Olympics: Cyclist Lizzie Armitstead wins Britain's 1st medal

July 29, 2012|By Lisa Dillman
  • Lizzie Armitstead leads a breakaway with Russia's Olga Zabelinskaya, right, and the Netherlands' Marianne Vos in a downpour Sunday. Armitstead ended up second to Vos, earning a silver medal.
Lizzie Armitstead leads a breakaway with Russia's Olga Zabelinskaya,… (Stefano Rellandini / AFP…)

LONDON — OK, the long nightmare is over for Great Britain.

Not winning a medal around here for a day or two could have easily turned into a very big deal. If three days had passed with no medals, it would have been time to assemble a Royal Commission to figure out what went wrong.

Thankfully, it was Lizzie Armitstead to the rescue.

The rain-drenched women's cycling road race came down to a furious sprint between Marianne Vos of the Netherlands and Armitstead on the Mall, and when it was over Great Britain had its first medal, a silver, of the London Olympics, ending a day and a half of doubt.

Vos held off Armitstead's charge, closing hard in the 80-mile race beset by highly difficult conditions. The Dutch cyclist actually had started out as a speed skater and won the gold medal in the points race four years ago in Beijing.

Great Britain, though, was hoarding the happiness Sunday with its first medal, and its young cyclist was almost giddy. Well, as giddy as you can be after riding 80 miles.

"It's really strange," said the 23-year-old Armitstead in her BBC interview moments after the race. "I don't know what I feel like. I'm a bit shocked.... It's the most special thing I've experienced in my life.

"It's so crazy and so inspiring. It was absolutely amazing. I didn't even feel my legs, it was just so special."

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