World champion Lizzie Armitstead came into the Rio Olympic Games road race as one of the outright favourites for the gold medal. The 27-year-old was the silver medallist in London four year's ago but in the lead into Rio it was revealed she had missed three anti-doping tests but won her case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to race and explained that she was in a 'lose-lose' situation.
Armitstead put the tumultuous week behind her, lining up for the 136.9km Fort Copacabana to Fort Copacabana as the lead of the Great Britain squad. Armitstead would finish in fifth place, winning the sprint from the chase group behind the podium trio of Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands), Emma Johansson (Sweden) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy), and Mara Abbott (USA) was was swept up in sight of the line.
"I would have put some money on Anna to win this race, she's a phenomenal athlete and this course was designed for her, I'm really really impressed," said Armitstead after the race of the rider she beat to the world title last September in Richmond.
From the three Great Britain riders to start, Nikki Harris and Emma Pooley joined Armitstead on the start line, Armitstead was the sole finisher and explained that in the end, the course proved too hard rather than a lack of legs or teammates.
"I'm proud of the effort I did, I stuck to my tactic, I needed to limit my losses on that climb and that's exactly what I did, I couldn't have climbed any faster. I'm happy with the tactic I had, I just simply wasn't good enough at climbing," she added. "I feel good, it was a victory to be here for me. It's been a very difficult couple of weeks but I'm happy that I was here to represent my country."
Having working on her capabilities as a climber across the 2016 season, Armitstead added that she would have required everything to go her way on the day.
"I knew that I was going to need a miracle to come away with a gold medal on this course; I came up short on the climb and that's what I've been working very hard on but that's sport, that's what it's about," said Armitstead.
Armitstead won't compete any other Olympic events with Pooley to lead the women's charge for a medal against the clock on August 10.