By Gregor Brown in Varese
An aggressive Kirsten Armstrong (United States) hit out early and shaped the outcome of Saturday's World Championship road race in Varese, Italy. The 35 year-old fought back after Wednesday's disappointment in the time trial.
"I was upset on Wednesday but within 24 hours I was better. I am a competitor and so I am not going to be smiling at the finish line, but I realised the next morning that I can't be on form every day," Armstrong explained to Cyclingnews. She finished 39th in the race won by Britain's Nicole Cooke.
Armstrong went out on the attack early on into the 138.8km race in Northern Italy. Her presence in the group of 12 was a surprise given her status as a favourite to win the race.
"We knew that of the team, Amber [Neben] and I were the strongest with this sort of course. For many years, it seems the US team would follow different teams' tactics, and today we wanted to go out and race our bikes. I wanted to catch the teams off guard. I knew the leaders would be sitting back and I am a leader so I wanted to give it a go. We created a break, but in road racing, you have to have a little bit of luck on our side.
"We created a gap and Amber obviously was our best climber today. It came down to a bigger bunch than we wanted, but I was able to let her relax in the bunch with Judith Arndt, Marianne Vos and Cooke."
The chasing peloton pulled back the move by the penultimate circuit. Team USA missed the final move including five that formed when Vos attacked on the Montello. Armstrong remains happy with the race, a sanctification made sweeter by the gold that she won at the Olympic Games in August.
"The gold medal is the pinnacle of sport it is mine and I will always be a good medal winner. I am happy to be an Olympic Champion."