World champion Lizzie Armitstead joined British Cycling for the Tour de Yorkshire on Saturday. She expressed disappointment over her missed victory but noted the special occasion in competing alongside compatriot Emma Pooley.
"Emma is one of the strongest athletes in the world," Armitstead said in a post-race interview with Voxwomen. "Obviously her focus at the moment isn't totally on cycling, and I think she felt that a little bit today, but I would never underestimate Emma and as soon as she concentrates on cycling, she'll be a force to be reckoned with."
Pooley has returned to professional cycling with a goal of competing for Great Britain at the Olympic Games in Rio.
The Tour de Yorkshire women's race took place on the same day as the men's second stage in Doncaster. Although the planned live coverage fell through due to technical issues, the prize purse reached £50,000.
Armitstead rode into a late-race breakaway with Liv-Plantur’s Leah Kirchmann and Cylance Pro Cycling’s Doris Schweizer. Although it looked like they had a chance of staying away, they were reeled back in by Hitec, with two kilometres to go, as the the team were in pursuit of a bunch sprint with Kirsten Wild.
Despite her disappointment at not winning the race, as it started in her hometown of Otley, Armitstead said it was a "pinch-me moment" to have so many fans at the race.
"I was emotional at the start in Otley," Armitstead said. "I didn't expect to feel like that but I was overwhelmed with pride and appreciation that the crowds came out to support women's cycling in such a strong and enthusiastic way."
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