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Armitstead Goes Roaring into Richmond

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Sept 26, 2015 – Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead outraced Dutch rival Anna Van der Breggen over the final 100 meters to win the women’s road race crown Saturday at the World Road Cycling Championships.

Armitstead trailed until a charge up the final climb and completed the 129.8km (80.6 miles) road course in 3hrs 23mins 56.00secs to defeat Van der Breggen by half a bike length with American Megan Guarnier third.

“It’s a very special thing, a dream come true,” Armitstead said. “I just couldn’t believe it.”

The 26-year-old Commonwealth Games champion, who took a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics road race, was in the peloton that chased down breakaways into the closing minutes. Armitstead moved to the right up the final climb and surged ahead on the final straight, getting into a sprint fight with Van der Breggen over the closing stretch as the crowd roared.

She took the rainbow jersey by barely the width of a wheel and wept as she realized she had claimed the world title. “I didn’t get to celebrate,” Armitstead said. “I was going all the way to the line. I can’t believe it. I’m so happy.”

The course featured repeating cobblestone climbs, a 200m test at Libby Hill and a shorter but steeper rise at 23rd Street, and a 300m climb just ahead of the final turn for the finish. Numerous solo riders made charges as the race wore on but none had an impact until Australia’s Rachel Neylan broke ahead with 28km remaining and sparked the first multi-rider breakaway.

Nine riders charged ahead by 30 seconds with 24km remaining as several favorites lingered behind, stretching the margin to 60 seconds after the penultimate Libby Hill climb. That was too much for Armitstead, who found little help for a charge and had to bide her time until the closing kilometers when the break pack faded.

“I had to be patient,” she said. “Thankfully other teams took it on.” With 16km remaining, Poland’s Malgorzata Jasinska broke from the lead group and surged to the front, leaving her nearest rivals eight seconds behind with 12km remaining and the peloton a minute further adrift.

Italy’s Valentina Scandolara and Aussie Lauren Kitchen reeled in Jasinska with 9km remaining and raced 30 seconds ahead with 4.2km remaining as the peloton closed. The peloton reeled in the remnants of the lead pack on the penultimate climb, with Armitstead and training partner Tiffany Cromwell of Australia battling into the final climb. Dutch rival Lucinda Brand raced in front and Armitstead countered to begin her run to victory.

“I’m still in shock,” Armitstead said. It was a game really. I stuck to my plan.”

Final kilometers of Women’s World Road Race

Results Women’s 2015 World Championships RR

1. Elizabeth Armitstead (Great Britain) 3:23:56
2. Anna Van Der Breggen (Netherlands)
3. Megan Guarnier (United States Of America)
4. Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)
5. Emma Johansson (Sweden)
6. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (France)
7. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland)
8. Alena Amialiusik (Belarus)
9. Jolanda Neff (Switzerland)
10. Ellen Van Dijk (Netherlands) 0:00:09
11. Joelle Numainville (Canada)
12. Trixi Worrack (Germany)
13. Karol-Ann Canuel (Canada)
14. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa)
15. Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)
16. Lucinda Brand (Netherlands)
17. Tiffany Cromwell (Australia)
18. Elena Cecchini (Italy) 0:00:17
19. Rachel Neylan (Australia)
20. Lizzie Williams (Australia)