Elizabeth Armitstead (Great Britain) claimed a well-deserved title in the women’s elite race at the World Championships in Richmond, beating Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) into second and Megan Guarnier (United States of America) in third.
"It's all you dream about as a cyclist, and it's so strange that it's mine," she said. "I won't realise it until tomorrow morning for sure."
Armitstead had gone on the attack on 23rd Street and Governor Street but was unable to force a decisive gap. Coming into the finishing straight she was forced to lead out, but she used her track experience to allow Van der Breggen to move up before coming around the Dutch rider to take her first world title on the road.
"I knew that the sprint was going to be difficult," she said. "I knew I had to lead it out in that situation, so I took it to one side of the road and dictated the sprint. I knew that if I was on one side of the road, they would have to attack me from the other.
"That was a perfect lead-out, so thank you to Anna."
At one point in the race an Armitstead victory looked far from likely with a dangerous move including several top nations a minute clear with two laps to go.
It was Germany and the Netherlands who closed the gap on the last lap, however, despite both nations having riders in the main break.
Armitstead's first attack on 23rd Street came alongside Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland), but the pair were unable distance the main field. On the lower slopes of Governor – the final climb of the race – Armitstead kicked again, but once more Armitstead was foiled by her rivals.
"My plan was always to attack on Governor Street," Armitstead said. "Probably people thought I should wait for the sprint, but I knew I needed to get rid of Bronzini and Shelley [Olds], and that's what I did. I stuck to my plan."
There would be no mistakes in the sprint though as the leading group of less than 10 riders came onto the finishing straight. Armistead was on the front but was surrounded by a number of powerful sprinters, most of whom hadn’t been as aggressive in the race.
Van der Breggen was the first to flinch, while Guarnier came from too far back to contest for the rainbow jersey. Armitstead made no mistake, banishing her demons from last year with a sprint worthy of wining the world title.
How it unfolded
The 129.6km race took place under threatening skies in Virginia’s capitol city, but the precipitation never really materialised and riders were spared the carnage that took place at the end of the men’s U23 race the day before.
The women circled the 16km course eight times, traversing the cobbled climbs of Libby Hill and 23rd Street each lap as they pounded up the cobbles and battled the attrition that was sure to take place.
The US squad suffered serious setbacks when Lauren Stephens withdrew from the race and Shelley Olds was involved in a crash. The diminutive sprinter was unable to regain contact and abandoned several laps later.
Multiple attacks went up the road in the early going, as the bunch seemed hesitant to give anyone too much leash on the tricky, technical course. Poland’s Monika Zur eventually sneaked away and stuck a move, but the Germans eventually came to the front and put an end to her move.
With four laps down Russia’s Svetlana Vasilieva got away next for a short-lived attack, followed by a solo move from Netherlands’ Chantal Blaak. The Dutch rider pressured the bunch with a 28 second gap with less than 40km to go. A concerted chase from US rider Evelyn Stevens eventually brought her back with about two laps remaining, and the deck was shuffled once more.
Stevens’ effort split the field, and a select group of half a dozen riders started to form that included her teammate Coryn Rivera. The move didn’t stick, but counter attacks created another move that would animate the race until the final four kilometres.
In the new group were Rivera, Audrey Cordon (France), Lauren Kitchen and Rachel Neylan (Australia), Emilia Fahlin (Sweden), Valentina Scandolara (Italy), Amy Pieters (Netherlands), Romy Kasper (Germany) and Malgorzata Jasinska (Poland).
The gap moved out to over a minute, and the group looked like it might be in with a chance to go to the line, but Jasinska jumped away on the final lap and created a gap. The leaders worked together to pull back the Polish rider, prompting Scandolara and Kitchen to jump away. The duo worked well together, but the favourites caught their former breakaway companions and soon had them in their sights.
They made the catch at the bottom of the hill, and the final surge to the line was on.
Scandolara said she really believed her move would work, but the aggression in the chase doomed their chances.
"I tried to stay on the wheels, but we were too tired to keep up. I'm really happy with my race. My teammate was third until the last meters then got fourth. It was a good race for Italy."
Italy's Giorgia Bronzini was in the mix in the end, but a broken bike cost her a chance for third title.
"It's a shame Giorgia broke her bike," Scandolara said. "It could have been much better for us, but that's bike racing."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|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)|
|21||Malgorzata Jasinska (Poland)|
|22||Linda Melanie Villumsen (New Zealand)|
|23||Valentina Scandolara (Italy)||0:00:19|
|24||Evelyn Stevens (United States Of America)|
|25||Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark)||0:00:31|
|26||Emilia Fahlin (Sweden)|
|27||Giorgia Bronzini (Italy)||0:00:36|
|28||Lauren Kitchen (Australia)||0:00:46|
|29||Katrin Garfoot (Australia)|
|30||Lisa Brennauer (Germany)||0:00:49|
|31||Romy Kasper (Germany)||0:00:51|
|32||Leah Kirchmann (Canada)||0:00:52|
|33||Ganna Solovei (Ukraine)|
|34||Daiva Tuslaite (Lithuania)|
|35||Rasa Leleivyte (Lithuania)|
|36||Alison Jackson (Canada)|
|37||Emilie Moberg (Norway)|
|38||Diana Penuela (Colombia)|
|39||Coryn Rivera (United States Of America)|
|40||Lotta Lepisto (Finland)|
|41||Elena Kuchinskaya (Russian Federation)|
|42||Eugenia Bujak (Poland)|
|43||Ingrid Drexel (Mexico)|
|44||Tatiana Antoshina (Russian Federation)|
|45||Aude Biannic (France)|
|46||Amy Pieters (Netherlands)|
|47||An-Li Kachelhoffer (South Africa)|
|48||Amanda Spratt (Australia)|
|49||Jolien D'hoore (Belgium)|
|50||Loren Rowney (Australia)|
|51||Ane Santesteban Gonzalez (Spain)|
|52||Anna Plichta (Poland)|
|53||Audrey Cordon (France)|
|54||Rossella Ratto (Italy)|
|55||Lenore Pipes (Guam)|
|56||Olga Shekel (Ukraine)||0:01:11|
|57||Polona Batagelj (Slovenia)||0:01:16|
|58||Anna Potokina (Russian Federation)||0:01:25|
|59||Oksana Kozonchuk (Russian Federation)|
|60||Gracie Elvin (Australia)|
|61||Chantal Blaak (Netherlands)||0:01:37|
|62||Tatiana Guderzo (Italy)||0:02:33|
|63||Eri Yonamine (Japan)||0:03:33|
|64||Jelena Eric (Serbia)||0:04:52|
|65||Monika Zur (Poland)||0:05:41|
|66||Ursa Pintar (Slovenia)|
|67||Iris Slappendel (Netherlands)|
|68||Laura Camila Lozano Ramirez (Colombia)|
|69||Anisha Vekemans (Belgium)|
|70||Monika Brzezna (Poland)|
|71||Olivia Dillon (Ireland)|
|72||Joanne Kiesanowski (New Zealand)|
|73||Serika Guluma Ortiz (Colombia)|
|74||Hanna Nilsson (Sweden)|
|75||Camilla Mollebro (Denmark)|
|76||Marta Bastianelli (Italy)|
|77||Tayler Wiles (United States Of America)|
|78||Rushlee Buchanan (New Zealand)|
|79||Hayley Simmonds (Great Britain)|
|80||Doris Schweizer (Switzerland)|
|81||Roxane Knetemann (Netherlands)||0:07:34|
|82||Svetlana Vasilieva (Russian Federation)||0:10:11|
|83||Daniela Reis (Portugal)|
|84||Varela Erika (Mexico)|
|85||Paola Munoz (Chile)|
|86||Lauren Komanski (United States Of America)|
|87||Jeanne D'arc Girubuntu (Rwanda)||0:11:37|
|88||Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spain)||0:14:00|
|DNF||Claudia Lichtenberg (Germany)|
|DNF||Sara Mustonen-Lichan (Sweden)|
|DNF||Alice Barnes (Great Britain)|
|DNF||Ingrid Lorvik (Norway)|
|DNF||Martina Ritter (Austria)|
|DNF||Anna Sanchis Chafer (Spain)|
|DNF||Amélie Rivat (France)|
|DNF||Stephanie Pohl (Germany)|
|DNF||Lucy Garner (Great Britain)|
|DNF||Enkhjargal Tuvshinjargal (Mongolia)|
|DNF||Lija Laizane (Latvia)|
|DNF||Paz Bash (Israel)|
|DNF||Miryan Nunez (Ecuador)|
|DNF||Cecilie Gotaas Johnsen (Norway)|
|DNF||Charlotte Becker (Germany)|
|DNF||Tetiana Riabchenko (Ukraine)|
|DNF||Kathrin Hammes (Germany)|
|DNF||Shelley Olds (United States Of America)|
|DNF||Annelies Dom (Belgium)|
|DNF||Pascale Jeuland (France)|
|DNF||Roxane Fournier (France)|
|DNF||Natalya Saifutdinova (Kazakhstan)|
|DNF||Zuzana Neckarova (Czech Republic)|
|DNF||Cherise Stander (South Africa)|
|DNF||Elise Delzenne (France)|
|DNF||Jessie Daams (Belgium)|
|DNF||Kaat Hannes (Belgium)|
|DNF||Jessie Walker (Great Britain)|
|DNF||Lauren Stephens (United States Of America)|
|DNF||Nicole Hanselmann (Switzerland)|
|DNF||Kathryn Bertine (Saint Kitts and Nevis)|
|DNF||Nontasin Chanpeng (Thailand)|
|DNF||Sofie De Vuyst (Belgium)|
|DNF||Denise Ramsden (Canada)|
|DNF||Molly Weaver (Great Britain)|
|DNF||Tereza Medvedova (Slovakia)|
|DNF||Daria Egorova (Russian Federation)|
|DNF||Yennifer Cesar (Venezuela)|
|DNF||Milagro Mena (Costa Rica)|
|DNF||Katarzyna Wilkos (Poland)|
|DNF||Fiona Meade (Ireland)|
|DNF||Olena Demydova (Ukraine)|
|DNF||Miriam Bjornsrud (Norway)|
|DNF||Sarah Rijkes (Austria)|
|DNF||Jutatip Maneephan (Thailand)|
|DNF||Solymar Rivera (Puerto Rico)|
|DNS||Laura Vainionpaa (Finland)|