“Who’s in the break for Team GB?” I overheard a man ask his wife. “Is it Emma?”

She looked blank. “It’s the other one,” she said.

Whereas most people lining the road race route on Saturday would have been able to identify Messers Cavendish, Wiggins and Froome, for many picking out the British women in today’s event clearly wasn’t proving so easy.

Not that it seemed to matter to the 100 or so fans gathered around a small TV in the Burford Bridge hotel at the bottom of Box Hill, many of whom will have sacrificed a good spot on the climb for a better position in front of the screen to see the finish.

Their enthusiasm – undamped by the heavy rain out – was clear to see; a British winner was a possibility, after all. It didn’t seem to matter if you knew who Lizzie Armitstead was or not, everyone bar a Dutch family in the room was backing the Brit.

There were cheers, Wimbledon-esque  “come on Lizzie” chants and even some sustained clapping. Anything to stop biting the fingernails, I guess.

There was a brief moment of panic among some of the crowd when the TV pictures showed a British rider off the back with a mechanical. Once again it was a case of mistaken identity – the rider in question was indeed Emma Pooley, somewhat belatedly.

As the leading trio rode nearer to the finish, both noise levels and tension rose. Some were shouting encouragement at the screen, others were dishing out tactical advice.

Ultimately it the Briton’s day, but the women had given us a fantastic show of aggressive and determined riding, which is likely to elevate both Armitstead’s status as well as the profile of women’s cycling in this country.

That could be quite handy, especially if you ever get asked to identify who is in the front group of a race.

London 2012: Live text coverage of cycling events

July 28: Men’s road race

July 29: Women’s road race

London 2012: Latest news

Tickets for Box Hill? You may need another…

Bradley Wiggins’ UKSI Olympic bike

Hoy helicoptered in for opening ceremony

Box Hill closed after local riders give security the slip

Boonen and Gilbert train on Box Hill Olympic circuit

Goss fresh for Olympic Games assault

Trott on top: London 2012

Hoy to be GB flag bearer at London 2012 opening ceremony

Millar: I think about Olympics all the time

Cavendish recognises advantage in missed Tour chances ahead of Olympics

Kenny not Hoy selected for London 2012 sprint

German and French Olympic teams sneak in fourth sprinter

Cavendish: GB’s best bet for Olympic gold

London 2012: Team info

Men’s road race start list

Women’s road race start list

Men’s time trial start list

Women’s time trial start list

Team GB rider profiles

Great Britain track team confirmed

Bronzini leads Italian Olympic cycling team

British Olympic men’s road race team announced

Armitstead and Cooke lead GB women’s road cycling team

London 2012: Event guides

Olympic Games women’s road race: Who will win?

Olympic Games men’s road race: Who will win?

Download detailed Olympic road race route map

London 2012 cycling schedule

London 2012: Reports

Men’s road race: Vinokourov wins as Cavendish misses out

London 2012: Photos

Men’s road race by Phil O’Connor

Men’s road race by Graham Watson

Team GB road race training on Box Hill (July 26)

London 2012: Podcasts

Cycling Weekly podcasts on Soundcloud

London 2012: TV schedule

London 2012 BBC TV cycling coverage schedule

London 2012 Eurosport cycling coverage schedule



  • Mark Jones

    It was a good race what we saw of it. But then we went out for the afternoon and set it to record only for the good old BBC to switch channels. Women’s cycling deserves more backing in this country, but then again so does men’s as we have one UCI race other than the Tour of Britain. Time for British Cycling to pull their finger out and capitalise on all this success.