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Britain waiting for first medal after near misses in cycling and fencing

Published 07/08/2016

Geraint Thomas crashed on the final descent with just 10km left
Geraint Thomas crashed on the final descent with just 10km left

Britain's wait for a first medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics goes on after Lizzie Armitstead could only manage fifth in the women's road race and fencer Richard Kruse lost an incredibly close bronze medal match in the foil.

Armitstead was one of the favourites for glory in the cycling but missed out in the 137-kilometres race as Holland's Anna van der Breggen won a dramatic gold.

Speaking afterwards she said: "I can't feel sorry for myself. This is sport and that's what it's about."

After a torrid week in which she had to face questions about missed doping tests Armitstead could have been forgiven for being a little distracted.

But she said: "Once I've got a number on my back I'm a totally different person and I'm focused and it didn't enter my mind once in the race. I was totally focused on what I do best. It's a deserving Olympic champion for sure."

There was major drama when Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten, who was leading with less than 11km to go, crashed horrendously on a steep downhill bend.

Footage showed her not moving afterwards, but there were later reports that she was conscious and moving.

It was later reported van Vleuten is in intensive care with three cracks in her spine and concussion, but UCI Women Cycling said that apparently there was "no serious medical problem".

Former Olympic champion Chris Boardman said he was unhappy about safety on the route, which also saw many riders crash out in the men's race on Saturday.

He told the BBC: "I'm actually quite angry about it because I looked at the road furniture and thought nobody can crash here and get up. This was way past technical, this was dangerous, and it means people who designed the course have seen it and left it."

Hopes for a Team GB medal on the second day of the Games now remain with swimmers Adam Peaty and Jazz Carlin, who compete in their finals in the early hours of Monday.

Peaty is the hot favourite to take gold in the 100m breaststroke after smashing the world record in his first-round heat, while Carlin will be hoping for silverware when she goes up against American Katie Ledecky in the 400m freestyle final.

On Sunday there was heartache for fencer Kruse, who in his fourth Olympics came agonisingly close to winning his first medal.

Kruse was beaten 15-13 by Russian Timur Safin in the bronze medal play-off match, despite a spectacular comeback from 12-5 down to move within two points of victory at the Rio Olympic Park.

In his fourth Olympics, Kruse had three impressive wins in the preliminary stages before falling to eventual silver medallist Alexander Massialas in their semi-final bout, and will now concentrate on the team foil competition next week, when Great Britain are considered to have a potential chance of a medal.

Divers Alicia Blagg and Rebecca Gallantree were also left frustrated after finishing sixth in the three metre synchro final.

The pair were in third after two rounds but ended in sixth as the Chinese pair of Wu Minxia and Shi Tingmao dominated, Minxia becoming the first diver to win five Olympic gold medals and the oldest female champion in the sport.

Elsewhere, Andy Murray eased past Viktor Troicki as he got the defence of his Olympic men's title under way, winning in straight sets 6-3 6-2.

The win was Murray's 13th in a row and seventh at the Olympics, and he will look to extend the run when he faces Argentina's Juan Monaco in the second round.

Britain's women gymnastics survived a scare when Ellie Downie was injured when she fell on her neck during her floor routine.

Downie said she heard a crunch and was put in a wheelchair, but later returned to help her team qualify for the final.

Team GB's women's rugby sevens team continued their imperious form, cruising past Fiji 26-7 in the quarter-finals to set up a tough semi-final against one of the favourites New Zealand, who squeezed past the USA in their quarter-final.

But there was frustration for Great Britain's men's hockey team, who were held to a 2-2 draw in a group stage match by New Zealand.

Canoe slalom athlete Joe Clarke qualified in second for Wednesday's semi-final, recovering brilliantly after a 50-second penalty in his first run.

In the table tennis Liam Pitchford and Paul Drinkhall safely negotiated their way through the second round.

Earlier in the day the Olympic rowing programme was left in disarray after strong winds forced organisers to postpone racing.

Boats were being blown off course and swamped in choppy waters during practice earlier on Sunday, and after repeated delays World Rowing announced that racing was being called off.

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