Lizzie Armitstead wins Women's Tour of Flanders

World Champion beats Johansson in sprint finish

Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) climbed to the top step of the podium on Sunday following a nail-biting finale to the women’s Tour of Flanders. The world champion edged out Emma Johansson (Wiggle High5) by a bike throw to the line in Oudennarde. Two seconds later, Armitstead’s teammate Chantal Blaak won the chase group sprint for third.

“It was a really strange race with just two in the front,” said Armitstead. “We had to commit. I didn’t leave anything for the sprint. Emma’s fast, and I didn’t underestimate her.

“It was a poker game in the end,” she added. “I didn’t have any radio, so I didn’t know what was happening.”

While Armitstead has had an incredible run in the rainbow jersey this spring, her early season wins at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche and Trofeo Binda were part of her build to Sunday’s iconic show. Each time she’s fielded questions about her 2016 season objectives, she’s given an unwavering response. Her season has been planned around two key objectives: the Tour of Flanders and the 2016 Rio Olympics. With her Flanders victory, Armitstead has proven yet again that she can deliver on the biggest days of the season.

“It’s really special to win, and to win in the rainbow jersey is even more special,” said Armitstead. “It was the perfect day.”

The 2016 edition of the women’s Tour of Flanders, run on the same day and the same roads as the men’s race, covered 141 kilometres, including 10 classified climbs and five categorised cobble sectors. Two riders slipped away from the peloton in the opening 10 kilometres, but their moment of glory was short-lived. The bunch swallowed them up and chased down every early escape attempt that followed.

Thalita de Jong (Rabo-Liv) proved the first rider capable of opening a gap. The cyclocross world champion attacked just beyond the Paddestraat, the fourth of the five cobbled sectors. De Jong’s compatriot Iris Slappendel (UnitedHealthcare) gave chase but was never able to make contact. The bunch was content to allow de Jong to dangle out front until the Kaperij climb, at which point Boels-Dolmans had enough and upped the pace to overtake the lone leader.

“Everyone had their role and everyone did it really well,” Armitstead told Cyclingnews. “Up until the Kanarieberg, I never touched the wind. Christine [Majerus] was taking care of me from the start. She did that really well. I was never out of position, and it made a big difference today.”

Over the Kanarieberg, the peloton split into three main groups. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) led the front group onto the Kruisberg where she accelerated, furthering the selection. Twenty kilometres from the finish, a 20-strong group reached the foot of the Oude Kwaremont.

“It came over the radio that Ellen [van Dijk] should make the race harder over Oude Kwarement,” noted Armitstead. “The race was still too much together. My plan was to go on the Paterberg, and we needed it to be more aggressive so that I could get away.

“Ellen set a really fierce pace over the Oude Kwarement that sort of brought everyone on their knees,” Armitstead added.

As attrition whittled down the group, defending champion Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) fired a shot. The Italian’s attack was quickly marked by Armitstead, Johansson and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Rabo-Liv). Johansson accelerated over the Oude Kwaremont and put in another dig on the uphill run-in towards the Paterberg.

The Swedish champion’s second attack proved the race-maker. Armitstead jumped on Johansson’s wheel, and the duo immediately opened up a sizeable gap on a chase group of around 15 riders. While both riders committed to the move, Armitstead was clearly pulling more than her fair share.

“She didn’t give me a single turn into Paterberg, and I thought: ‘I’ll still make this work. I’ll attack her on Paterberg’ and I tried, but I couldn’t get her off my wheel,” explained Armitstead.

The duo crested the Paterberg with an 18-second advantage over a chase group of eight.

“A couple kilometres after the Paterberg, Emma decided to work, and we worked together until the final kilometre,” Armitstead explained.

The leading duo had only 10 seconds when they powered under the flamme rouge. Armitstead had three teammates in her wake; Johansson had one.

Stuck on the front in the run-in to the finish, Armitstead played the waiting game and forced Johansson to open the sprint. Armitstead followed suit, and the duo sprinted for the line side-by-side. Calling on her track background for the bike throw, Armitstead outsprinted Johansson for the win to take out round five of the UCI Women’s WorldTour.

“I needed her to open the sprint before me, and she did,” said Armitstead. “At that point, it’s not about who is fastest, it’s who is freshest. I was tired, and you could see that in my sprint. It was a race all the way to the line.

“I knew in my gut that I had won because I knew my momentum took me over the top of her,” she continued. “Generally you know in that situation, but I didn’t dare risk it. I knew for certain when she congratulated me.

“I’m delighted but it’s also a big relief,” Armitstead added. “I’ve got that win, that career goal done, and now it’s all about shifting focus. It’s a good way to start putting the spring behind me and thinking about Rio.”

With the win at Flanders, Boels-Dolmans remains unbeatable in the UCI Women’s WorldTour series. Armitstead has won rounds one (Strade Bianche), three (Trofeo Binda) and five (Tour of Flanders) and currently leads the series overall ahead of team mat Blaak, who won rounds two (Ronde van Drenthe) and four (Gent Wevelgem).

The secret to their success?

“We train really, really hard, and we have no social life,” said Armitstead.

Evie Stevens, who rode in support of Armitstead today, piped up to add: “We trust each other, and we commit, and we eat a lot of fucking oatmeal.”

The inaugural UCI Women’s WorldTour series continues on 20 April with La Flèche Wallone.

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Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Elizabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team3:43:27 
2Emma Johansson (Swe) Wiggle High5  
3Chantal Blaak (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team0:00:02 
4Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team  
5Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle High5  
6Eleonora Van Dijk (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team  
7Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Orica-AIS  
8Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team  
9Claudia Lichtenberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
10Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team0:00:08 
11Gracie Elvin (Aus) Orica-AIS0:00:59 
12Jessie Daams (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
13Rossella Ratto (Ita) Cylance Pro Cycling  
14Olga Zabelinskaya (Rus) Bepink  
15Amanda Spratt (Aus) Orica-AIS0:02:00 
16Coryn Rivera (USA) UnitedHealthcare Women0:02:03 
17Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Canyon-SRAM  
18Joelle Numainville (Can) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team  
19Elena Cecchini (Ita) Canyon-SRAM  
20Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Lensworld-Zannata  
21Amy Pieters (Ned) Wiggle High5  
22Malgorzta Jasinska (Pol) AlÈ Cipollini  
23Brianna Walle (USA) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank  
24Anna Van Der Breggen (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team  
25Sarah Roy (Aus) Orica-AIS  
26Lauren Kitchen (Aus) Hitec Products0:03:23 
27Jolien D'hoore (Bel) Wiggle High50:03:26 
28Lotta Lepistö (Fin) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team  
29Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spa) Cylance Pro Cycling  
30Eugenia Bujak (Pol) BTC City Ljubljana  
31Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team  
32Sofie De Vuyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
33Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
34Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon-SRAM  
35Elizabeth Williams (Aus) Orica-AIS  
36Anna Zita Maria Stricker (Ita) INPA - Bianchi  
37Eileen Roe (GBr) Lares-Waowdeals Women Cycling Team  
38Rasa Leleivyte (Ltu) Aromitalia Vaiano  
39Emilia Fahlin (Swe) AlÈ Cipollini  
40Julie Leth (Den) Hitec Products  
41Emilie Moberg (Nor) Hitec Products  
42Alison Jackson (Can) Twenty16 - Ridebiker  
43Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) Team BMS Birn  
44Susanna Zorzi (Ita) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
45Linda Melanie Villumsen (NZl) UnitedHealthcare Women  
46Saartje Vandenbroucke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Etixx-Guill D'or  
47Floortje Mackaij (Ned) Team Liv-Plantur  
48Lucinda Brand (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team  
49Thalita De Jong (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team  
50Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team  
51Valerie Demey (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Etixx-Guill D'or  
52Kaat Hannes (Bel) Lensworld-Zannata  
53Joanne Kiesanowski (NZl) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank  
54Kelly Van Den Steen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Etixx-Guill D'or  
55Leah Kirchmann (Can) Team Liv-Plantur  
56Polona Batagelj (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana  
57Audrey Cordon (Fra) Wiggle High5  
58Amélie Rivat (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86  
59Flavia Oliveira (Bra) Lensworld-Zannata  
60Marie Vilmann (Den) Team BMS Birn  
61Nicole Brändli (Swi) Servetto Footon  
62Katie Hall (USA) UnitedHealthcare Women  
63Evelyn Stevens (USA) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team  
64Alena Amialiusik (Blr) Canyon-SRAM  
65Kaitlin Antonneau (USA) Twenty16 - Ridebiker  
66Alison Tetrick (USA) Cylance Pro Cycling  
67Anna Plichta (Pol) BTC City Ljubljana  
68Monique Van De Ree (Ned) Lares-Waowdeals Women Cycling Team0:04:12 
69Lenore Pipes (Gum) Bepink0:04:14 
70Clara Koppenburg (Ger) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team  
71Chanella Stougje (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team  
72Janneke Ensing (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team  
73Carlee Taylor (Aus) Team Liv-Plantur  
74Marta Bastianelli (Ita) AlÈ Cipollini  
75Laura Massey (GBr) Drops Cycling Team0:04:41 
76Jennifer George (GBr) Drops Cycling Team  
77Jessica Cerra (USA) Twenty16 - Ridebiker  
78Alice Maria Arzuffi (Ita) Lensworld-Zannata  
79Sharon Laws (GBr) Podium Ambition Pro Cycling p/b Club La Santa  
80Tetiana Riabchenko (Ukr) INPA - Bianchi0:05:43 
81Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) Hitec Products0:06:10 
82Soraya Paladin (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  
83Nina Kessler (Ned) Lensworld-Zannata0:07:03 
84Leah Thomas (USA) Twenty16 - Ridebiker  
85Jip Van Den Bos (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team  
86Esra Tromp (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team  
87Alexis Ryan (USA) Canyon-SRAM  
88Anouska Koster (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team  
89Špela Kern (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana  
90Rozanne Slik (Ned) Team Liv-Plantur  
91Sofia Arreola (Mex) Twenty16 - Ridebiker0:08:17 
92Ilona Hoeksma (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team  
93Diana Peñuela (Col) UnitedHealthcare Women  
94Alicia Gonzalez Blanco (Spa) Lointek  
95Iris Slappendel (Ned) UnitedHealthcare Women  
96Chloe Hosking (Aus) Wiggle High5  
97Oxana Kozonchuk (Rus) Lensworld-Zannata  
98Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
99Lex Albrecht (Can) Bepink0:11:15 
100Loren Rowney (Aus) Orica-AIS  
101Jesse Vandenbulcke (Bel) Lares-Waowdeals Women Cycling Team  
102Anna Potokina (Rus) Servetto Footon0:12:02 
103Ilaria Sanguineti (Ita) Bepink0:12:35 
104Silvia Valsecchi (Ita) Bepink0:14:00 
105Alba Teruel Ribes (Spa) Lointek  
106Katia Ragusa (Ita) Servetto Footon0:15:53 
107Rachele Barbieri (Ita) Cylance Pro Cycling0:15:56 
108Sara Penton (Swe) Lares-Waowdeals Women Cycling Team  
109Lauren Komanski (USA) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank  
110Elena Franchi (Ita) Aromitalia Vaiano  
DNFNatalie Van Gogh (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team  
DNFLouise Norman Hansen (Den) Team BMS Birn  
DNFMargriet Helena Kloppenburg (Den) Team BMS Birn  
DNFJermaine Post (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team  
DNFPauliena Rooijakkers (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team  
DNFBarbara Guarischi (Ita) Canyon-SRAM  
DNFStephanie Pohl (Ger) Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling Team  
DNFCharlotte Becker (Ger) Hitec Products  
DNFJanicke Gunvaldsen (Nor) Hitec Products  
DNFValentina Scandolara (Ita) Cylance Pro Cycling  
DNFLauren Stephens (USA) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank  
DNFEmily Collins (NZl) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank  
DNFLauren Hall (USA) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank  
DNFSara Mustonen (Swe) Team Liv-Plantur  
DNFJulia Soek (Ned) Team Liv-Plantur  
DNFAnnie Ewart (Can) UnitedHealthcare Women  
DNFRoxane Fournier (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86  
DNFGreta Richioud (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86  
DNFAude Biannic (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86  
DNFCoralie Demay (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86  
DNFEugénie Duval (Fra) Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86  
DNFJelena Eric (Srb) BTC City Ljubljana  
DNFUrsa Pintar (Slo) BTC City Ljubljana  
DNFTereza Medvedova (Svk) Bepink  
DNFTatiana Antoshina (Rus) Astana Pro Team  
DNFKseniia Dobrynina (Rus) Astana Pro Team  
DNFNatalya Sokovnina (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFAne Santesteban Gonzalez (Spa) AlÈ Cipollini  
DNFAnna Trevisi (Ita) AlÈ Cipollini  
DNFDalia Muccioli (Ita) AlÈ Cipollini  
DNFLieselot Decroix (Bel) Lotto Soudal Ladies  
DNFEva Buurman (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team  
DNFKelly Druyts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Etixx-Guill D'or  
DNFGilke Croket (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Etixx-Guill D'or  
DNFJessy Druyts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Etixx-Guill D'or  
DNFAbby-Mae Parkinson (GBr) Servetto Footon  
DNFMaria Vittoria Sperotto (Ita) Servetto Footon  
DNFMolly Meyvisch (Bel) Servetto Footon  
DNFLara Vieceli (Ita) INPA - Bianchi  
DNFAna Maria Covrig (Rom) INPA - Bianchi  
DNFSara Olsson (Swe) INPA - Bianchi  
DNFClaudia Cretti (Ita) INPA - Bianchi  
DNFMonia Baccaille (Ita) Aromitalia Vaiano  
DNFBeatrice Bartelloni (Ita) Aromitalia Vaiano  
DNFAlessia Bulleri (Ita) Aromitalia Vaiano  
DNFAlessia Martini (Ita) Aromitalia Vaiano  
DNFShana Van Glabeke (Bel) Lares-Waowdeals Women Cycling Team  
DNFSarah Rijkes (Aut) Lares-Waowdeals Women Cycling Team  
DNFGloria Rodriguez Sanchez (Spa) Lointek  
DNFRocio Del Alba Garcia Martinez (Spa) Lointek  
DNFAurore Verhoeven (Fra) Lointek  
DNFMaria Del Mar Bonnin Palou (Spa) Lointek  
DNFSara Headley (USA) Podium Ambition Pro Cycling p/b Club La Santa  
DNFGabriella Shaw (GBr) Podium Ambition Pro Cycling p/b Club La Santa  
DNFGrace Garner (GBr) Podium Ambition Pro Cycling p/b Club La Santa  
DNFElizabeth-Jane Harris (GBr) Podium Ambition Pro Cycling p/b Club La Santa  
DNFClaire Rose (GBr) Podium Ambition Pro Cycling p/b Club La Santa  
DNFCamilla Møllebro (Den) Team BMS Birn  
DNFPernille Mathiesen (Den) Team BMS Birn  
DNFChristina Siggaard (Den) Team BMS Birn  
DNFTine Rasch Hansen (Den) Team BMS Birn  
DNFIrene Bitto (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  
DNFNicole Dal Santo (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  
DNFNadia Quagliotto (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  
DNFElena Leonardi (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  
DNFAsja Paladin (Ita) Top Girls Fassa Bortolo  
DNFRebecca Durrell (GBr) Drops Cycling Team  
DNFLucy Shaw (GBr) Drops Cycling Team  
DNFTamiko Butler (Ant) Drops Cycling Team  
DNFSophie Coleman (GBr) Drops Cycling Team  


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