Lizzie Armitstead wins women's World Championship road race
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 27/09/15 12:25pm
Lizzie Armitstead has become only the fourth Briton in history to be crowned women's world road race champion after winning a sprint finish in the United States on Saturday night.
The 26-year-old beat the Netherlands' Anna van der Breggen into second place by half a bike's length in Richmond, with home favourite Megan Guarnier finishing a distant third.
For a long time, it looked like Armitstead's chances of victory had evaporated after she failed to join what appeared to be a decisive breakaway, but the field came back together in the last 3km and the Yorkshire rider took full advantage.
She will now wear the rainbow jersey for the next year and joins Beryl Burton, Mandy Jones and Nicole Cooke as Britain's only female world road race champions.
Armitstead, who crossed the line in tears, said: "This is the big one. You get to wear the jersey and the rainbows are a very special thing in cycling. I just couldn't believe it. I didn't get to celebrate. I really was going all the way for that line.
"It was such a strange sprint for me because I was on the front leading it out. I was waiting for the rush to come and it never came. It was just perfect. It's really strange. I can't believe it. I'm still in shock. I'm so happy."
The race took place over eight laps of a 16.2km circuit in Richmond containing three short climbs, two of which were on cobbles.
The peloton had stayed as one until around 27km to go, when a nine-rider breakaway formed and opened up a maximum advantage of just over a minute.
Armitstead missed the move and with Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia and the United States all represented in the escape group, it appeared that they would be allowed to stay away to the finish.
Armitstead was unable to chase because all of her team-mates had been distanced, but when the Dutch and Australian riders in the breakaway started to fade, those two nations stepped up the pace in the peloton and made the catch with about 2.6km to go.
Armitstead then attacked up the final climb, with 1km to go, but it wasn't steep or long enough for her to distance her rivals and a sprint between nine riders consequently followed.
No one was willing to come past Armitstead and take up the pace-setting in the finishing straight, so she was left with the unwanted task of leading the way into the final 250m. Van der Breggen then ignited the sprint by launching her burst for the line first, but Armitstead had enough energy in reserve to surge past with just under 50m left.
Armitstead added: "I had to be patient. With two laps to go I tested them on that steep cobbled climb and I thought maybe somebody will come across with me to the [breakaway] group.
"Thankfully, other teams took it on. I think it was down to Germany actually, but they didn't do anything, so I was thankful that the other teams put people on the front."
The victory rounds off an outstanding year for Armitstead, who was also crowned winner of the UCI Women's Road World Cup for the second year in succession last month.
Women's World Championship road race result
1 Lizzie Armitstead (Great Britain), 3:23:56
2 Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands), same time
3 Megan Guarnier (United States), st
4 Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy), st
5 Emma Johansson (Sweden), st
6 Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (France), st
7 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland), st
8 Alena Amialiusik (Belarus), st
9 Jolanda Neff (Switzerland), st
10 Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands), +9sec