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Yellowknife cyclist makes Olympic debut
In a British downpour, Denise Ramsden finishes 27th for Canada

Jesse Winter
Northern News Services
Published Monday, July 30, 2012

Yellowknife's Denise Ramsden made her Olympic debut in London Sunday, competing in the 140-km women's cycling road race on a crowded course in heavy rain.

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Denise Ramsden: Couldn't catch breakaway riders late in today's race but called experience "awesome."

Ramsden finished her first Olympic race in 27th place, with teammate Joelle Numainville in 12th and Canadian race favourite and past medallist Clara Hughes in a distant 32nd.

The Netherlands' Marianne Vos claimed the gold today, Britain's Lizzie Armitstead the silver and Russian Olga Zabelinskaya settled for bronze after a very wet and chaotic race.

"It was awesome. It went well. It obviously would have been ideal to be in that move of three that went off (the front), but the timing didn't work out well," Ramsden said

Vos, Armitstead and Zabelinskaya broke away on Box Hill late in the race, after many unsuccessful earlier attempts by riders to get away.

"Nothing really stuck, everyone was sort of waiting for Box Hill. It was good to be part of the race and not just following along," Ramsden said.

As the main group of riders, known as the peloton, started up the first of two laps of Box Hill, Canadian Clara Hughes was leading the pack. Ramsden and Numainville were also close, hovering in the top 25 or so riders.

"(The rain) was coming down so hard it felt like hail. There was one corner where I was at the front and I almost went into the barrier because (the course) went back on itself so much so. It was crazy, but it was also exciting," Ramsden said.

On the second Box Hill lap, Zabelinskaya charged out alone and managed to sever ties with the pack.

Vos, Armitstead and American Shelley Olds took off after her, leaving the peloton in disarray. The German team, led by pre-race favourite Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, tried and failed to organize a chase group. Ramsden and Numainville were holding on to the main pack, but Hughes was fading.

"Obviously, after that we were going to work for Joelle for the sprint, but she crashed and I think she was pretty toast from having to chase back on. Clara told me she crashed. She said, 'Just get up there and attempt to sprint,' but that's not really my thing so I was glad to see Joelle get back up there," Ramsden said.

With less than 30 km to go, and time running out to catch the breakaway riders, Ramsden moved to the front of the peloton and tried to push the pace, but the trio of leaders were by now out of reach.

When the final three-up sprint came, there was no denying Vos, who lit the afterburners and crushed Britain's hopes of cycling gold to win the race in a time of 3:35.29.

Numainville finished 12th and Ramsden in 27th, both with a time of 3:35.56. Clara Hughes was 32nd at 3:36.01.

Ramsden will be back in action Wednesday in individual time trials.

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