Great Britain's Lizzie Armitstead reflects on a key decision and bemoans a tactically negative race, won by Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (France)

Lizzie Armitstead was going over what might have been in the women’s road race, and a decision in the final few hundred metres of the race that ultimately cost her a rainbow jersey at the 2014 world championships.

Over the crest of the final climb in Ponferrada, Armitstead found herself in a four rider group with defending champion Marianne Vos (Netherlands), Emma Johansson (Sweden) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy).

However inside the final flat kilometre, none of the riders were willing to work and lead their small group to the line. They were caught by a chasing pack with 600m to go and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (France) won the sprint for gold.

“I’d do everything different now if I had the chance again,” Armitstead said at the finish.

“It was my plan to commit to that [four rider] move and I did that and then you have to kind of, with 500m to go, re-group and switch just like that.”

Armitstead found the wheel of Giorgia Bronzini (Italy) once the groups had coalesced, however could only managed seventh in the final dash.

“In hindsight, perhaps if I was feeling like I was for the sprint, which was always going to be hectic at that point, then I probably should have tried to hit them,” Armitstead said.

“But I really feel like everyone was watching me and kind of marking me out a bit, which was always going to be difficult.”

In truth, Armitstead was faced with an almost impossible decision; lead the break to the line and very probably come third or fourth, or wait and run the risk of the bunch catching back on.

She urged on her breakaway companions but no response came.

“I understand with Elisa [Longo Borghini], she was never going to win from that group so she was better off waiting for Georgia [Bronzini],” Armitstead added.

“Marianne, I don’t know why she didn’t work, and Emma Johansson, for sure I don’t know why she didn’t work. She’s got another silver medal [Johansson was awarded bronze], maybe she likes them, I don’t know.”

Indeed Armitstead bemoaned a tactically negative race in general, where no riders or teams took the race by the scruff of the neck until the final 10 kilometres.

Her British teammate and first year senior Anna Christian rode out of her skin to pepper the field with attacks on the penultimate lap under instruction from her team leader, but it took until the final climb for the key selection to be made.

Equally Marianne Vos was far from her usual self; she was rarely seen at the head of affairs and Armitstead noted she had no problem shadowing any of the Dutchwoman’s surges in pace.

Even the rain, which began to fall in the final hour of racing, failed to spice things up.

“I was like, ‘nice one, lets go,'” Armitstead said of when the spots began to fall. “But again nobody took it on, and as an individual in that race you cant really make it harder.

“I’m gutted, I’m really gutted,” she added.

“I’m sure there will be plenty of people telling me what I could have done differently, but I’ll just have to keep learning.”


  • Bikeriderfrance

    complete load of rubbish 4 women 3 medals all sat up and stopped racing with 1 km to go,,come any world championship medal is worth more than that Geoff,

  • Hadyn Bosher,

    Womens “raciing!!” what can i say,it’s already been said,really it’s not a sport for the sex,as ladies?? don’t have the inbread agression needed,the “odd one” might might have!!

  • Hugh Anderson

    Agree,she said the race was to easy,never heard that one beforeWhy just say she was not good enough on the day.

  • ian franklin

    Agree with the comments below. This was amateur 4th cat racing at its’ best at it’s worst it was a Sunday sportive. It did women’s racing no good at all – we have seen so much better this year but with the world watching they really fouled up. Lizzie should have gone a km out. If she had done so, I will say (controversially) that she would now be world champ. If any of you women elites are reading this think again and get your act together. I’ve seen you do far better than this ………

  • MikeTea

    Lizzie could have won that race but she was so afraid to try, because she might lose, that she lost anyway. Any outcome would have been better than what we saw. Everyone in that race should be ashamed. Whine-whine-whine.

  • poisonjunction

    …. were these really Elite women cyclists? The Worlds VERY best …… ?

    the ‘same’ women who have the temerity to winge about pay, and lack of TV coverage etc etc., for their racing?

    No, what I saw were very unfit Novice’s with little or no idea of bunch racing, how to take on food, how to work together, how to benefit from slipstreaming, how to function as a group, how to even ride downhill!!

    The 2014 World Road, so called ‘race’, was effectively ridden very untidily at a ‘club run’ pace up to the last circuit, with club run style breathers allowing dropped riders to get back ….. and continued to do that right up to the last 300 yards, it beggared belief, ‘Elite’ riders!

    This 2014 race ‘Elite’ womens world championship ‘race’, was a disaster for Womens Cycling turning the clock back 50 years – pay parity, you gotta be joking?
    Can you imagine anyone considering putting money into any form of future sponsorship for Womens Cycling, after watching this pathetic display unfold?

    Importantly some riders should stop believing the press!

  • Magwister

    That was a painfully boring race to watch. Extremely slow, no guts displayed by anyone, tactically inept by all…just really, really dull. I can TT faster than that (22.7 mph average for just less than 80 miles) on a harder course and I am a triathlete not even a full-time cyclist or riding in a bunch. Armistead effed up…how many time have you ridden with Vos? How often does she ride so negatively? How many remarks have you made in the last week about Vos being weaker than normal? When you see Vos is gonna let a bunch catch you in the final few hundred metres should suggest she has no legs. Maybe Armistead has zero confidence. 3 of the 4 had a legitimate chance of winning, and Armistead was sat at the back in the run-in doing nothing with the others not seeming to give a toss about her and she reckons she was getting marked out of it??!!! She should have jumped once they all started to look around…better to have a go from that position (esp. as they were going to get caught) than being guaranteed to lose a sprint to actual sprinters. She played a game of chicken with herself. She shouldn’t criticize Johansson, she was the only one that came out of that group of 4 with any kind of argument over her judgement.

  • Jon Freeman

    Personally I have no experience of racing. However I cannot see how Lizzie was being marked anymore than the other 3 in the finale. At about 1.3km to go, before a roundabout Elisa went and Marianne followed. Emma then dragged Lizzie back across to those two. When she made the junction, after the roundabout, Emma slowed to their pace. Nobody appeared to be aware of where Lizzie was. At that point surely somebody who wants to have a hard race has got to say “ok it is down to me” and at least have a go. She already had the momentum from Emma’s chase. Maybe she had the legs but not the belief but it doesn’t win over the audience to moan about what everybody else failed to do.

  • Charles Rhind

    Lizzie rode well and I can understand her disappointment. However these comments are so negative. Bit like 2011 when Nicole Cooke was to blame for her not winning when it was her own fault.