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Stefano Rellandini, Pool, Associated Press
South Korea's Na Ah-reum competes in the women's cycling road race final at the 2012 Summer Olympics on Sunday, July 29, 2012, in London.

LONDON — It wasn't gold, but it was golden.

Lizzie Armitstead of Britain won the silver medal in the Olympic road race Sunday, trailing only big favorite Marianne Vos of the Netherlands.

A day after the British men failed to send ace sprinter Mark Cavendish to the gold medal he craved, Armitstead withstood torrential rain and gave the host nation its first medal of the London Games.

She called it "the most special thing I've ever experienced in my life. It's so crazy and so inspiring."

Armitstead persevered in a breakaway after the second ascent of Box Hill in Surrey to join Olga Zabelinskaya of Russia, who won the bronze medal in the 87-mile race.