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Punctured start for Aussies in road race
Roger Vaughan
21:48 AEST Sun Jul 29 2012

Australian team captain Amanda Spratt had an interrupted start to the women's Olympic cycling road race, stopping early because of a puncture.

Conditions were grey and cool for the women, who start and finish on London's Mall near Buckingham Palace.

There was a large clap of thunder and some rain before they set off at noon on Sunday.

Spratt quickly returned to the peloton after her wheel change in the opening kilometres.

The field of 66 women face a 140.3km course, which is the same as the men raced on the day before.

The only difference is the men went around the hilly Box Hill circuit nine times and the women have two laps.

Another big difference will be the weather - while the men race in warm and dry conditions, the women will have to be wary of wet roads.

Spratt, sprinter Chloe Hosking and domestique Shara Gillow are outsiders in the race, where the Italians, British, Germans and Dutch have the major claims.

The Australian women's squad is still in a development phase, but Spratt will try to go with a break or they will aim to set up Hosking for a sprint finish.

The race favourites include defending Games champion Nicole Cooke (Great Britain), team-mate Lizzie Armistead, Dutch star Marianne Vos and Germany's Judtih Arndt.

They will all be wary of a sprint finish, where Italian Giorgia Bronzini has won the last two world titles.

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