Lizzie Armitstead (England) put the pain of missing out four years ago behind her as she raced to Commonwealth Games gold in the women’s road race. Armitstead finished second to Australia’s Rochelle Gilmore in Delhi 2010, but was in formidable form in Glasgow.
The English rider has often been the bridesmaid on the biggest stages. Armitstead has one world title on the track to her name, but four more podium placings, and she also finished second to Marianne Vos in the Olympic Road Race in London two years ago. She has had a phenomenal 2014, however, gold on Glasgow Green was the culmination.
“I just feel like I deserve it,” said Armitstead, sounding almost more relieved than elated at her victory. “I’ve trained so hard, I’m always on the podium and I don’t get that many wins. It’s just a confidence thing once you’ve got a big title. You can call yourself champion finally and hopefully it bodes well for the rest of the season.”
Armitstead was the overwhelming favourite going into the race. She is the current World Cup leader - having finished on the podium in every even she’s entered - and won her national title on the same circuit 12 months ago. The experience gave all the home nations a small advantage over their rivals, but it was Armitstead who used it to perfection. She launched her killer move in almost exactly the same spot she did at the nationals.
Knowing that an attack from University Avenue had worked once before, Armitstead was ready to go for it again. “It was always the game plan and I thought that if it didn’t work then I would go on the last climb. The field whittled down and I thought I would go earlier to give myself a little more breathing space,” she explained. “I could have left it for that one, but I’m happy I went earlier.”
Armitstead’s victory was as much down to her own hard work as that of her teammate Emma Pooley. The rider who won silver in the time trial on Thursday attacked with around 10 kilometres to go. Pooley had already showed her aggression in the break by forcing the Australian’s to chase her down. Her final and defining effort snapped the elastic and set up Armitstead for glory.
Pooley went on to take silver and Armitstead was full of gratitude for the teammate who had given up her final chance of a gold medal in order to help her. “Emma did a fantastic race, she was so strong the whole race and I’m really grateful for her sacrifice,” said Armitstead.
“She really deserves it (her silver medal). She’s obviously famous for her climbing abilities. She has had a lot of stick over the years for her road racing tactics, but she really got it right today and we rode really well together.”
The result puts England on the top of the medal standings in the road events, with four medals in total and the men’s road race still to come.