Armitstead and Cooke can do their bit for girl power

 

Come what may this afternoon in The Mall, Great Britain's chances of a first Olympic gold in a road race do not begin and end with Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins and Co – the women's equivalent event tomorrow represents another massive opportunity to get the winning feeling going for GB. And unlike the men's team, history is on the women's side.

Four years ago in Beijing's women's road race, Nicole Cooke (above) let rip with a huge roar of delight as she outpowered a small breakaway group in teeming rain unleashed the avalanche of GB cycling medals.

Can this happen again? Cooke's race condition is said to be improving steadily despite the Welsh woman having no major victories under her belt this year and only one last season – a stage of the women's Tour of Italy – but her low-key approach path to London, saving her strength for the Games, was the same strategy that served her so well in Beijing.

She can count on stronger back-up too: unlike in Beijing, where three British women took part in the road race, this time round there will be four.

However, given the likelihood of the race being decided by a large peloton rather than half a dozen breakaways – which would be more Cooke's cup of tea – then Yorkshire's Lizzie Armitstead, currently Britain's fastest sprinter, is the natural home contender, meaning the team is taking a two-pronged approach to tomorrow's 140-kilometre event.

Mention sprints and road-races in the same breath these days in Britain and there are instant expectations of success on Cavendish's level.

But although women's national trainer Chris Newton is keen to play down comparisons between Armitstead and Cavendish, both riders' track backgrounds – Armitstead dropped her velodrome racing, where she was part of Britain's World Championships Team Pursuit line-up in 2009, specifically to target London's road event – and formidable sprint abilities are undeniable.

However, while Armitstead is not outright favourite like Cavendish, something which perhaps only a World Championships win would have ensured, on a good day the 23-year has the tactical nous and power in her legs to outpower the world's fastest. Those due to give her a run for her money include Ina Yoko Teutenberg, the veteran German sprinter who regularly snaps up to two dozen races a year with relentless ease, classics specialist Marianne Vos of Holland, and Italy's Giorgia Bronzini, world champion for a second year running last September.

Armitstead has more resources than just her sprinting. In April this year she won the Ghent Wevelgem Classic in Belgium, the inaugural version of cycling's most similar one-day race in terms of terrain to the London event – it has a very hilly mid-section, sandwiched between two very long portions of flat – with a 40km solo breakaway that took her rivals completely by surprise.

Option number three for Great Britain is Emma Pooley, whose liking for going clear of the pack alone is well-documented. However, the former world time trial champion and Olympic time trial silver medallist's light climber's build is not ideal for fending off a pack on the long, flat run-in to the Mall, meaning that in principle Armitstead (below) and Cooke are the more likely options.

While Cavendish and his team-mates have the memories of a faultless collective and individual performance in the World Championships last year to spur them on, last September's equivalent event for the women culminated in a very well-publicised spat between the two British riders. Armitstead accused Cooke of racing selfishly, and although both have resolved their differences and predictably insisted since then that the press made far too much of it, should there be any lack of co-ordination, then the row will be dragged up again.

Should either of them complete tomorrow's Olympic race with their arms raised high in The Mall, however, the events of last autumn will be the last thing on anybody's mind.

News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea