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july 29, 2012 • 03:05 PM

Armitstead silver takes pressure off

Gold medallist Marianne Vos of the Netherlands (C), silver medallist Elizabeth Armitstead of Britain (L) and bronze medallist Olga Zabelinskaya of Russia stand on the podium during the victory ceremony for the women's cycling road race at the London 2012 Olympic Games July 29, 2012.
Foto: Paul Hanna / Reuters In English

Lizzie Armitstead's silver medal for Britain in the road race provided some consolation for the men's failure in their event and took a bit of pressure off a team expected to do well at the Olympics.

Armitstead was beaten in a sprint finish on Sunday by Dutchwoman Marianne Vos but her performance lifted the mood of the team.

"Huge, huge. You want to get that first medal on the board, doesn't matter what anybody says," Britain's director of performance David Brailsford told reporters.

"Team GB has got its first medal on the board, it gets the media off our backs, let's concentrate and get on a roll."

It will be up to Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins to keep the ball rolling in the time trial on Wednesday when he bids to add an Olympic road title to the three gold medals he has from the track.

"He should be in good shape for the time trial. Another exciting day for us on Wednesday," said Brailsford.

"But we wanted something out of these first two races, to be honest and we got a fantastic performance today and now we go to Wednesday and see if we can repeat the feat."

Not that the mood was downbeat after the men failed to set up world champion Mark Cavendish for gold in Saturday's road race, according to Armitstead.

"Yesterday was disappointing but there were positives to it, the way they united as a team, the success they had at the Tour de France, it was certainly not a gloomy scenario at the hotel," the 23-year-old said.

Nicole Cooke, the 2008 Olympic road race champion, said the growing popularity of cycling in Britain meant the public were able to appreciate the performance by the men's team.

"I am not saying we were robbed of the victory but we performed unbelievably yesterday and the actual cycling public of Britain understand that," she said.

"Because cycling has become so popular they are starting to understand the tactics.

"All the people who lined the road realize what an epic performance as a team just to come up short, and we didn't come up short today.

"I think the biggest thing was the crowd and how much support we had," Cooke added.

Four years ago in Beijing, Cooke's title triggered a series of successes for the British, as the track team went on to take seven of the 10 titles on the velodrome.

"I think (it's good) although I don't think the track guys need any help," said Armitstead.

"I'm friends with Jo(anna) Rowsell and I know they are on track."

(Editing by Alison Wildey)

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