Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) finished second in the La Flèche Wallonne World Cup in Belgium to strengthen her position at the top of the women's World Cup standings. The British road champion climbed the Mur de Huy one second slower than race winner Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Rabo Liv Women's Cycling Team) with Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products) sealing third in a gripping finish to the fourth round of the competition.
Armitstead is yet to finish off the podium in the World Cup and the result is her third consecutive second place in the competition.
"My whole game plan was to hide as long as possible because the race is so tough," Armitstead told Cyclingnews once she had composed herself after a lung-busting effort on the final climb.
"Especially for someone like me when this isn't exactly my favourite sort of course. On the final climb I didn't want to be on the front but people kept coming up behind me and I tried to match their accelerations all the time."
The bunch came into the climb with Linda Villumsen (Wiggle Honda) holding the lead. "Linda was just there and I made the classic mistake and went a bit too early. I'm happy with the result though because I didn't think I could do anything today."
"I gave it everything in the last 200 meters. It was so painful and I'd say it's the most painful climb in women's cycling."
Armitstead closest rival coming into Flèche had been Emma Johansson (Orica - AIS) but the Swede could only manage 11th place.
Armitstead will line up in next month's Women's Tour in Britain, an inaugural event that will be one of women's cycling premiere events on the calendar.
"I'm really looking forward to it and I'm really proud and grateful the organisers. We need more races like that. The next big tour will be in Britain and that's a huge step forward for women's cycling," she said at today's finish.