London 2012: Lizzie delighted with Britain’s first medal

Lizzie Armitstead with her silver medal, the first for Britain at the 2012 games.

Lizzie Armitstead with her silver medal, the first for Britain at the 2012 games.

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Lizzie Armitstead was happy after claiming Great Britain’s first medal of the London 2012 Olympic Games in the women’s road race, but was a little rueful after missing out on gold.

Armitstead was beaten to victory at the end of a pulsating 140-kilometre race, as prolific winner Marianne Vos of Holland triumphed on The Mall.

With the peloton cast adrift, the 23-year-old from Otley was in line for Britain’s first medal of the home Games, but the question was which colour.

Armitstead positioned herself behind the Dutchwoman entering the finishing straight, but Vos was strong enough to hold off the Briton, who had to settle for second. Russia’s Olga Zabelinskaya was third.

Armitstead said: “I’m really, really happy. Maybe later I’ll start thinking about that gold, but I’m happy with silver at the moment.

“I was thinking about trying to play poker in the final, and I sat on with about 3km to go, and I thought that was my best chance, and it came off.

“In retrospect, I should’ve tried to jump Marianne, but she’s the fastest.”

On the first British podium place of London 2012, Armitstead said: “It’s something very special, and it hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Nicole Cooke won Britain’s first gold medal of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing in the event, and Armitstead was seeking to emulate the success to ensure the title remained in British hands.

Cooke’s victory came in teeming rain by the Great Wall of China four years ago, and Armitstead’s bid for victory was played out in treacherous and wet conditions.

In a frantic race, with attack after attack, Armitstead was part of the late escape on the final descent after Box Hill, in Surrey, but prolific winner Vos was too strong.

Emma Pooley put in a strong performance, marking escapes and keeping the tempo high, while Lucy Martin, the fourth member of the British team, played an integral role.

“Hopefully, the GB ball is rolling now, and I’m just so grateful to my team-mates, friends and family,” Armitstead added.

“It means four years of hard work has paid off.

“Lucy was fantastic in the beginning. I didn’t have to worry about being in the right position or anything.

“She did an incredible job. Pooley, as always, was smashing it over the climbs, which is perfect for me, an aggressive race.

“Nicole was there for the back-up plan, so it was good.”

Pooley will now concentrate on Wednesday’s time-trial at Hampton Court, in an event in which she is world champion.

Armitstead is also set to ride in the day five race against the clock.

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The International Olympic Committee has been a champion of social media, but the organisation has suggested the huge number of Twitter users during the cycling road races affected TV coverage.

BBC commentators and pundits were unable to receive electronic timing and positional updates during both the men’s and women’s races.

IOC communications director Mark Adams said around one million people had lined the roads, with many using social media which jammed transmission of race information.

He urged spectators to only send “urgent” updates when the peloton passed.