The women’s road race, which takes place on Sunday July 29, will be no less exciting than the men’s race the day before it.

Although the riders will have had a chance to see how the men’s race unfolds on the course, the race is still likely to be wide open. 

Teams are small – a maximum of four riders per nation are permitted – and there are any number of riders who are all capable of taking the win on the day.

The climb of Box Hill will be ridden just twice on the 140km route and should limit the opportunities for breakaways to stick. A bunch sprint is perhaps the most likely outcome although don’t underestimate the potential for a small group to stay away.

Just 67 riders will start the race at Midday on Sunday but it’s a field full of talent. We’ve had a look at the brightest of the bunch.

Marianne Vos, 25 , The Netherlands

If any rider goes into the race as favourite, it has got to be Vos. Her dominance of the women’s scene over recent years has been remarkable and, at 25, clearly has many, many years left in her.

Vos has proved that she can win on a variety of terrains and can never be counted out. The only thing missing from her stellar list of victories is an Olympic Games, having finished sixth in Beijing.

Judith Arndt, 36, Germany

The reigning world time-trial champion has been at the top of women’s cycling for almost a decade, regularly placing in the top ten at the world championships road races.

Arndt has a string of wins to her name in 2012 including the Tour of Flanders and most recently at the Thuringen Rundfahrt.

Nicole Cooke, 29, Great Britain

Cooke has had a tough 2012 somewhat lacking in results and may well find herself at the service of Lizzie Armitstead. Nevertheless the defending champion from Beijing always has an eye for an opportunity and will be deeply motivated to defend her crown on home soil.

Lizzie Armitstead, 23, Great Britain

One of the best sprinters on the scene, Armitstead is Great Britain’s best hope for a gold in the road race. Like Cavendish her challenge will be negotiating the two ascents of Box Hill and remaining at the head of the race coming into London. 

Giorgia Bronzini, 28, Italy

Defending world champion from 2010 and 2011, Bronzini can never be written off. Comes to London with three podium finishes at the recent Giro d’Italia Femminile.

Emma Johansson, 28, Sweden

Consistent high finishes in 2012 for Johansson despite a collarbone break back in the early season mean that the Swede shouldn’t be far from the podium. She’ll dearly want to go one better than her silver medal in Beijing.

Evelyn Stevens, 29, USA

The American won the Fleche Wallone in Belgium earlier this season and added a third place overall at the Giro d’Italia Femminile.

Related links

London 2012 Olympic Games: Women’s road race start list

Olympic road race route – download detailed map

London 2012 Olympic Games: Coverage index