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Games of the 30th Olympiad, London 2012 

 

 

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Road Race - Vos gets the dream win

London, 140km

Race Writeup

Marianne Vos led the winning trio onto the finishing straight on The Mall to claim her second Olympic gold medal to go along with her Olympic title in the points race on the track in Beijing. VOS powered home the win with a sprint from 175 meters to go ahead of Lizzie Armitstead, who claimed Great Britain's first Olympic medal of the London 2012 Olympic Games with silver. Olga Zabelinskaya who initiated the winning move with an attack midway through the second of two passages over Box Hill won Bronze.

In direct contrast, to the men’s race, conditions where poor for the women’s race. The heavens opened before the start and wet roads caused some problems for the riders. There were a number of punctures early on before the roads dried a little and the sun shone. Not for long though. The rain started to fall again on the approach to the main climb.

A number of attacks early on split the bunch and a leading group of 45 riders hit the short but steep, Staple Lane climb. The Dutch team were aggressive from the gun, with Ellen van Dijk (NED) attacked four times to rattle the bunch in the first two hours of racing before arriving on a 15.5km circuit featuring two passages over the short but steep Box Hill climb.

Clara Hughes (CAN) set the early pace on the climb and did the damage. USA’s Evelyn Stevens attacked with team mate Kristin Armstrong. Ellen van Dijk (NED) moved to the front and attacked.  The tall and powerful Dutch woman managed to gain a small advantage before the Amber Neben (USA) and Emma Pooley (GBR) is the gap.  On the climb for the first time, Stevens led the bunch over the top for the first time.

Over the climb, Pooley attacked over top.  Pre-race favourite Marianne Vos (NED) closed the gap and Shelly Olds (USA) was all on the front.

The pace was incredible on the decent.  Vos , Emma Johansson (SWE), Pooley, Armitstead,  Annemiek van Vleuten (NED) and Charlotte Becker (GER) were all evident on the front. On the second climb up Box Hill, Olga Zablinskaya (RUS) attacked on the climb. Vos went with her. Olds chased with Armitstead and the four leaders created a gap.

Vos put in a huge dig to form a promising quartet coming off the Box Hill circuit nursing a slender 12-second gap.

The favoured Germans and Italians were slow to organise a chase, allowing the leading foursome to carve a promising 23-second gap with 35km to go.

Olds punctured just as the leaders were gaining momentum and dropped all the back through the chasing peloton. Her American teammates towed her back to the main pack, but her medal hopes evaporated.

With 39km to go the gap between the leaders and the chasing group was 16 seconds. Despite all the efforts form Judith Arndt (GER) it took some time before the other teams moved to help.

With 25km to go the lead was 4 seconds.  The Italians moved to help with the chase with the Germans.  Vos and  Armitstead were strong. Zabelinskaya.

Heavy rain started to fall, further complicating the chase group, which had been reduced to about 30 riders. The leaders, realising the medals were within their grasp, collaborated to drive home the winning margin. 

Armstrong (USA) an Arndt were working hard on the front to close the gap. With 20km to go the gap was 37 seconds.

On the approach to Richmond Park the gap was 38 seconds.  Armitstead and Vos contributed most to the work. Zabelinskaya moved through. The gap was stretching to 41 seconds with 15km to go.

The rain was falling heavily as Armitstead was encouraging the other riders to pull through with a lead of 50 seconds.

With 13.7km to go the gap was 39 seconds but increased again at 11km to 48 seconds. From there, it was only a question of which order the medals would go.

Back in the chase they were not organised. Sweden, Italy and Germany were all trying to work to close the gap. 

The three leaders worked well together. With 9km to go the lead was 46 seconds. With 8km to go the gap was 38 seconds.

With 5km to go the leaders had 1 47 seconds gap. Arndt worked tirelessly on the front to try to close the gap to the leaders.

With 2.5km to go the three leaders started to think about the finish. The gap to the chase was 37 seconds.

With 1.5km to go, Zablinskaya picked up the pace. The gap was 32 seconds with 1km to go.

At 500m, Zablinskaya was on the front but not for long. With 100m to go, Vos attacked. Armitstead just could not make the gap.

In the chase Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (GER) led the bunch across the line. Olds who would certainly have medalled had she not punctured, finish 7th.

Many of the top women will next compete in the individual time trial on Wednesday 1 August.

Comments

Marianne Vos (NED) was overjoyed as she crossed the line in first place. “ I was a little nervous early on. The break work incredibly hard, we gave it everything. In the last 1km the crowds were amazing. On The Mall it was a wall of noise. I have had a amazing season and the last four years since Beijing have brought me to this. It is amazing, “ said Vos

"After Beijing (2008 Olympic Games), that was the only thing that was on my mind for four years. Now that it's happened, it's incredible. Now the gold is mine."

Discussing the tactics during the race, Vos added "The only thing I thought was, I've got to cross the line first. That's what's simple about cycling, but in the end, it's very tough. We made it a tough race. There were not so many countries who also attacked, but we did very well to make the race aggressive. When we arrived at Box Hill, there was a lot of wind and it was difficult to get into a breakaway. It stayed all together, but after Box Hill, there was another small climb, and we knew that." 

"Of course I knew it was 140km, you need some energy for the finish but I also knew that a hard race was good for me and that the others had to follow and use their energy. So for me it was the plan to attack quite early and many times to tire myself, but also to tire the others."

Reflecting on the race, "It was a hard race today with the weather conditions also, but I felt good. We made (it) a hard race with the Dutch squad with early attacks from Ellen van Dijk, Loes Gunnewijk, and an attack from Annemiek [van Vleuten] also. That was the plan and then, during the race, l thought that this might be the day that it is coming all together."

Vos is always prepared for major events, "First, the most important thing is to get in really good shape at the start and that's what I tried to do, that's what we tried to do with all the team. I had some troubles with my preparation with a broken collarbone but I could race again after four weeks." "I was a little stressed, but not too much, and then the last few weeks were quite good and I knew I was ready for the race. In cycling you can't predict everything you just have to race the race and make the choices during the race. I felt good and I knew that there were going to be chances."

On the winning breakaway, "We were four, but then [Shelley] Olds (USA) punctured, then we were all riding for a medal, and that's a big advantage. The other two rode hard as well, especially Lizzie [Armitstead]. It's all intuition in the final sprint. "You have to keep on pushing until the finish because it was our biggest chance for gold or a medal. That's what we did. Only in the last two kilometres did we start to watch (each other) and to prepare the sprint."

It's very hard, because at 500m to go, you already see the finish line. And you think, 'I have to go!' but you have to wait. Eventually, I still went early. I saw Armitstead come next to me, but she didn't come through."

"Of course I knew Lizzie is really fast on the line. So I wasn't all that confident. But I knew I had a chance, a big chance. I also knew if I made a little mistake Lizzie would take the gold. So I had to choose the right moment at the finish. And I think I did it."  

On winning Netherland's first gold medal at London 2012, Vos said, "An early medal is always important, whether it's gold or silver. We are very grateful to Marianne VOS and her team."

On being in London, "We are here with our family and we are very happy. These few drops of rain, that's nothing. This (gold medal) makes up for everything."

Elizabeth ARMITSTEAD (GBR) after winning the silver medal at the women's cycling road race at The Mall on Sunday. 

On taking the silver medal:
"I feel really strange. I'm a bit shocked. Emma (POOLEY, GBR) did everything that was asked on Box Hill. We wanted to have an aggressive race. I'm happy. Maybe I should have jumped (Marianne) VOS (NED) earlier, but she was the stronger rider. I am thrilled. I am still a bit shell-shocked, to be honest. I cannot really get my head around it. I suppose the disappointment of not winning gold is starting to sink in a little bit, but I am overjoyed with silver."

On her tactics during race:
"We saw after watching the men's race that, once a committed group goes, it's hard to chase from behind. She (VOS) was the one to watch. I was following her around. We got into a break together, but it was too early. Then we went after the final climb on Box Hill. It's very special. It's so inspiring to win."

On being the first British medallist at the London 2012 Olympic Games:
"I am very, very happy. To be an Olympic medallist at your home games and the first one is something I cannot get my head around. I am so happy for the people that have supported me to get to this point."

On her criticism of Nicole COOKE (GBR) after the 2011 world road cycling championships (when she suggested that COOKE was not working as part of the team) in light of COOKE's team role in ARMISTEAD's silver medal at London 2012:
"To me, that is irrelevant at this point. It was a case of we knew what to do. We had a plan, and that's the last thing on my mind."

Olga ZABELINSKAYA (RUS) - bronze

On taking the bronze medal:
"I didn't expect it, though I dreamt about it, but I didn't have any plans. It just happened. I am glad and very pleased, but if it didn't work, it would have still been OK."

On tactics for the race:
"There were no tactics, just improvisation. I didn't plan it. I felt that I should go for it and I went. Then I got caught and we could work together."

On the winner, Marianne VOS (NED):
"She is a machine right now and the rest of us are not yet at this high level."

Pre-race

Marianne Vos (NED) was confident ," I have done everything to prepare, I am ready”, said Vos before the race

Olga Zabelinskaya (RUS) was very relaxed before the start. “I am ready. I have recovered well from  Thuringen last week and feel strong,” said Zablinskaya  

More quotes below:

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Results - Top 10 - click here to see full result

Position Name Country Time/Gap
GOLD VOS Marianne  NED  3:35:29
SILVER ARMITSTEAD Elizabeth  GBR  +0:00
BRONZE ZABELINSKAYA Olga  RUS  +0:02
4 TEUTENBERG Ina  GER  +0:27
5 BRONZINI Giorgia  ITA  "
6 JOHANSSON Emma  SWE  "
7 OLDS Shelley  USA  "
8 FERRAND PREVOT Pauline  FRA  "
9 de VOCHT Liesbet  BEL  "
10 BIANNIC Aude  FRA  "

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Ina TEUTENBERG (GER)

On her race after finishing fourth:
"It would have been better if we finished one position higher and it would have been great if two of us could have had the chance to lead, but that's how road cycling works."

On the reason they didn't win a medal:
"There were very strong riders in the lead and we missed the breakaway. My teammates tried everything to bring back the break. We were fast but the others were too strong to catch."

Shelley OLDS (USA), who suffered a puncture and lost contact with the winning breakaway, after the women's road race on Sunday.

Shelley OLDS (USA)

On riding into the winning breakaway:
"It was the second time going up Box Hill. It was a pretty steady pace, but at the top they started to attack a little bit. I was on (Marianne) VOS's (NED) wheel and after the descent there was a little climb. 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. It was me, her, Lizzie ARMITSTEAD (GBR) and Olga ZABELINSKAYA (RUS) and we started to ride right away. I knew it was the winning move."

On puncturing:
"Shortly after that, I had a front flat. That's just bike racing. I had to stop and wait for a wheel change. It wasn't a very fast wheel change. I was almost chasing to get back on to the end of the bunch. At that point, I thought there was still hope because Italy, Germany and the U.S. weren't represented. I thought the three teams could chase enough to bring it back. Those girls were just riding too strong and they never came back. It's really a disappointment."

On missing out on a chance of a medal and finishing seventh:
"I'm really devastated because I believe I could have medalled. That was the winning move and I was in it."

Tatiana GUDERZO (ITA)

On her race after finishing 30th:
"
The course wasn't the best I've ever seen. The crowd was dangerous in some parts and the roads were very slippery. As soon as it started raining I couldn't control the wheels, especially downhill and at the turns."

"It was the downhill, not the climb, that really made the difference. Most of the riders had to slow down because of the slippery conditions, while the breakaway escaped. As a team, we tried to help Germany to close the gap, but the first three were too strong."


Noemi CANTELE (ITA)

On her race after finishing 34th:
"It was very hard today, especially with the weather and the rain. I was in the breakaway but couldn't make it."

Nicole COOKE (GBR)

On her performance, finishing 31st:
"We
did a great ride today, it was pretty tough out there with the rain, but you have just to get on with the racing. The biggest thing was the crowd and how much support we had. It was amazing. On the Box Hill climb, it was OK on the climb, but it was over the top when they went really fast. That was when it was strung out and that was when it was really hard."

On Team GB's plan and the silver medal for Elizabeth ARMITSTEAD (GBR):
"We knew Lizzie was in form, we knew I was in form, we knew Emma (POOLEY) was going really well. We didn't have the all-out sprinter, (so) we wanted to get someone in the break and that's what we did. I think all of us can be very proud."

Dave BRAILSFORD - director of performance

On the race:
"It was so nail-biting right to the end. It was touch and go for such a long time. This all down to being proactive and willing to take the risk and show some initiative."

On getting in the decisive break:
"When she saw the opportunity and saw it breaking up, she was quick to react and she wasn't scared to go on the front foot and gamble. I think that's what you have to do to win. She was praying for rain this morning. She got more than she bargained for. What a brilliant performance."

On gold medal winner Marianne VOS (NED):
"Credit to Marianne, a worthy Olympic champion."

Annemiek van VLEUTEN (NED) and Ellen van DIJK (NED) after teammate Marianne VOS (NED) won the gold medal in the women's cycling road race on Sunday. 

Annemiek van VLEUTEN (NED)

On tough race conditions:
"I was really suffering. But I thought: 'Well we have to make it a tough race so if I'm suffering, that's a good sign, because that's what we wanted.' You can see that when it's a tough race, Marianne (VOS) can make the difference."

On Marinanne VOS winning the gold:
"For her it's the jewel in the crown. There were so many countries chasing after her, which makes her performance all the better."

On the breakaway staying ahead:
"It's surprising that they stayed ahead if you see how fast the bunch chased. We rode 45-50km per hour. Then the American lady (Shelley OLDS, USA) punctured in the breakaway, so there came another country joining the chase. I thought: 'if they get caught, it's going to be my turn’."

On whether this is also a win for herself (she finished 14th):
"No, I think the best won and that's Marianne. If I would have wanted to win, I should have grabbed a chance for myself. However, this is a team effort. For sure we'll celebrate as a team tonight."

Ellen Van DIJK (NED)

On the team's tactics:
"We've tried to open the race and it went pretty well."

On her own medal chances in an early breakaway (she finished over the time limit):
"No, I did not ride for that. I just did everything for Marianne, and she won, so it's perfect."

Clara HUGHES (CAN) - 32nd

On the atmosphere around the race:

"It was epic, it was awesome, there were so many people on the course. We were wondering if people would come and watch the women’s race, so it was amazing to have so much support in the pouring rain."

On the race conditions:

"It was terrifying, it was like really technical. The roads were slippery, crashes. Racing in the rain is not fun."

On not getting into the winning break:

"Today was gambling. We don’t have a really strong team or the maximum numbers of four (riders). You could see even Germany miss the breakaway. I was there when it went, and took a gamble to wait when (Olga) ZABELINSKAYA (RUS) went. Then when (Elizabeth) ARMITSTEAD (GBR) went and I was caught behind the Americans (USA). I don’t know whether I could have gone with them."

On her condition ahead of the time trial (on Wednesday):

"I felt really good, I climbed every section at the front, so going into the time trial I have a really good sensation. I am really excited for Wednesday."  

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Pre-race

Marianne VOS (NED)

On her feelings about today's race:
"I had a good night's sleep, but of course there's also pressure now. Today it's going to happen."

On Netherland's team tactics:
"We want to make it a tough race for everyone. We go over Box Hill twice and we are going to make the pace. We have got a strong team."

On the lessons from Saturday's men's road race:
"It's more difficult to control the race with these small teams. If there is a breakaway, it's not going to be caught easily, although of course you have to add that it was a very big escape group yesterday."

On weather conditions:
"There's a storm coming up, rain and wind. Real Dutch weather conditions, that's good for us."

Annemiek van VLEUTEN (NED)

On Netherland's team tactics:
"We will probably try to attack before arriving at Box Hill already. We are better off with a tough race so we don't want to wait too long. We want to give other countries someone to work for."

On the role of Marianne VOS and herself:
"Marianne is our main rider of course, but I'm also in for something. It makes it more difficult for the others if they have to divide their attention."

On dropping the sprint specialists:
"There are three sprinters: Shelley OLDS (USA), Ina TEUTENBERG (GER) and Giorgia BRONZINI (ITA). We'll have to drop them on Box Hill."

Ina TEUTENBERG (GER)

On her expectations:
"As a team we go for gold, that's our aim. Hopefully it will happen. There are a lot of good cyclists on the start (line), it's going to be tough. We are ready for every situation. We'll just see what's going to happen."

On the Box Hill climb:
"It's very small and that makes it very hard for sprinters. You can't really fall back too far because otherwise you are going to split up, but that's the same for everybody and you just have to cope with it. We only have to go up there twice."

On the weather:
"The rain is coming, so it's going to be a nervous race."

Evelyn STEVENS (USA)

On starting on The Mall:
"I just rode down the first kilometre, it's just awesome. It's going to be the greatest experience."

On watching the men's race Saturday:
"I learned that it is a hard race to control. The crowds were fantastic for the team. I hope it is the same for us. We are all very excited to be here."

Kristin ARMSTRONG (USA)

On the race tactics:
"I think that we have a good team and that we have lots of cards to play. I think the course will suit us well. We watched it (the men's race) and I learnt that it is a really hard course to chase on. We have our sprinter, but I think people will look at Marianne VOS (NED) and Giorgia BRONZINI (ITA) and Ina TEUTENBERG (GER) to be the favourites."

"We have our card of Shelley OLDS (USA) to play as our sprinter, but we have Evenlyn STEVENS USA), myself and Amber (NEBEN, USA) who are fine if a breakaway happens."

On the course:
"We stayed at Box Hill for a couple of days when we first arrived. The course seems a bit heavier than we would have ever imagined by looking at it even on google maps. I think that this course is super-heavy and the men showed that yesterday."

On racing with four-rider teams:
"The men had a taste of it for the first time, having the max number of five when they are used to having nine. The women are even less, we have a maximum of four and only five teams have that. It really makes it a hard situation and a lot of weight is put onto the shoulders of the top-five counties."

"The one thing you do not want to do is miss that opportunity if there is a break that goes because people will be looking at us."

On defending her Olympic time trial title on Wednesday:
"I definitely have (one eye) on Wednesday. The TT is always the number one goal for me. I know that going into a big Games, the road race is very important. I am here to help the girls win a medal."

"I had it planned with my coach that today is going to be really hard and I have planned for that in my training, so I can give it everything I have. I still have two days to recover. At this level, you train your body to recover within two days."

Emma JOHANSSON (SWE)

On the race compared to the road race four years ago in Beijing:
"I think it's going to be quite a long day, which is like Beijing. The course looks a little bit trickier, but it will be a hard race, which should suits us."

Pauline FERRAND PREVOT (FRA)

On being the youngest athlete in the race:
"
I'm a bit nervous and I feel a little pressure. Anyway, it's going to be a great day, I'm very happy and being the youngest (at 20) rider is extraordinary."

On her expectations for the race:
"
I feel in good shape. I'll try to get the best possible result. Of course, I have hopes for a medal. We are at the Olympic Games and everything is possible. Even if I would have preferred a tougher course, I still like it. The best possible scenario would be to take part in a breakaway in the final part of the race, then in a small group I can do well at the sprint. During the race Great Britain, Netherlands and Italy will mark each other and it may benefit us."

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