Zabelinskaya brings Russia road race bronze
Marianne Vos of the Netherlands took the gold medal, holding off Britain’s Elizabeth Armitstead in a sprint finish on The Mall, both passing Zabelinskaya in the final meters.
Despite difficult rainy conditions, the leading trio quickly created a 30-second gap, making the rest of the pack forget about the podium.
That fate of the medals was decided in the final thousand meters of the 104.2-km race, with Vos proving to be the stronger sprinter.
Zabelinskay was clearly racing for third place, with the experienced rider being objective about her potential.
“I’m very happy with this medal,” the 32-year-old told R-Sport. “Somewhere deep inside I hoped that it would be possible. The key point in this race for me, of course, was when I managed to break away from the peloton and held on to this advantage. We got unlucky with the weather, so I tried to ride with caution to avoid falls.”
“I hope it’s not the last medal for our cycling team in London,” she added.
The London bronze became the first Olympic medal in the Zabelinskay’s trophy cabinet.
It’s also Russia’s second medal at the Games, with Arsen Galstyan winning gold for his country on Saturday in the 60kg Judo class.
Two other Russians, Tatyana Antoshin and Larisa Pankova, finished the road race in 25th and 38th spot respectively.
Meanwhile, the Olympic hosts finally, have something to celebrate, with Armitstead’s silver becoming their maiden medal at the Games.
Marianne Vos of The Netherlands (L) crosses the finish line after winning the women's cycling road race event, next to Britain's Elizabeth Armitstead (R) in second and Olga Zabelinskaya (C) of Russia during the London 2012 Olympic Games in London on July 29, 2012 (AFP Photo / Carl Souza)