THE women's road race began today in markedly worse weather than the men's, which is likely to make the 140km course even more challenging.

Team GB are less hyped than yesterday's male contingent but are still bursting with talent. Nicole Cooke is a defending Olympic champion while Lizzie Armitstead is a very fast sprinter.

The team arrived with the day's first thunderclap to an ecstatic reception from those seated at The Mall, though, as with so many venues, not every seat was taken.

Armitstead said before the race: "Every single shout that the crowd gives us today means everything to us."

Dutch rider Marianne Vos is the hot favourite to claim gold, with the Olympic road race one of the few titles that has eluded her so far.

A bunch sprint is set to favour a fast rider like Germany's Ina-Yoko Teutenberg but, as yesterday showed, this contest is nothing if not unpredictable.

Organisers are hoping there will be enough sunny spells to draw in crowds as large as yesterday's which saw the whole route packed out with cheering fans.