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The podium of Emma Johansson, Lizzie Armitstead and Audrey Cordon
British national championships triumphed in sprint against Emma Johansson
Having made her way into a 17 rider break that was whittled down to two riders late in the race, Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) held off Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS), a former two-time winner of the race, in a sprint finish to claim the 2014 Omloop van het Hageland. Hitec Products' Audrey Cordon was too fast for Thalita de Jong (Rabobank Liv) and the remainders of the break as she claimed third place
"We worked hard as a team to get this result today. In the past few weeks I managed to get some nice results, but I feel liberated now I managed to get the win. My big objective for this season was to win,My big objective for this season was to win more, that started off very well," Armistead said after the race.
Armitstead and Johansson escaped on the final climb of the 126km race which takes in the best of Belgian roads that typify the Classics: short, sharp climbs, narrow roads, and cobbles. The win was Armitstead's first since she claimed the national British title last year but third place at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad a week earlier was an ominous sign the silver medallist from the Women's London Olympic road race was in form.
The break that Armitstead made it into had formed following a crash which occurred with a touch over 50km of racing and 17 riders quickly built a lead of one minute which remained steady until the finish.
With two laps to go of the 13km circuit, Armitstead launched a short-lived attack over the climb and was followed by Johansson, Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products), Sofie De Vuyst (Futurumshop.nl), and Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv). When Armitstead tried again, only Johansson could follow while Longo Borghini also tried her luck at catching the front duo but faded in the final kilometer but saw teammate Cordon flash past to take the final podium spot just four seconds behind Armitstead and Johansson.
"I'm so happy with this third place. It is something that just pays back all my effort and all the support I have received from my family and friends over the last few years," Cordon said. "I hope this is just the beginning and there are more exciting things to come in 2014 with Hitec Products."
For Orica-AIS sport director Gene Bates, Johansson's second place was due reward of the team's effort. "I'm not only pleased with the result, I'm also really happy with the way the team rode. While we may say that our objective is to win every race, we know that's impossible. We strive to win every time we line up, but we can be happy with other results when we ride well as a team ," Bates said.
"With what I've seen this week in Belgium, I'm confident we've got a lot to look forward to this season."