Lizzie Armitstead wins thrilling sprint finale to take world title in Richmond, USA

Lizzie Armitstead (Great Britain) out-sprinted Anna Van Der Breggen (Netherlands) to win the elite women’s UCI World Championships road race in Richmond on Saturday.

She becomes the fourth British woman to be crowned world champion, following in the footsteps of Beryl Burton, Mandy Jones and Nicole Cooke.

It was clear the victory meant a huge amount to Armitstead, who was almost in tears upon crossing the finish line.

Lizzie Armitstead wins the 2015 Womens World Road Championships

Lizzie Armitstead gives an emotional response to winning the world title

Despite finding herself in the undesirable position of having to lead out the bunch sprint on the finishing straight, the British rider held her nerve and slowed the pace down, waiting for someone else to make the first move. That move came from Van der Breggen, who Armitstead immediately responded to by latching on to her wheel, and just about managed to pass her before the finish line to win by half a bike length.

Her victory was all the more impressive given that, as she crossed the finish line for the penultimate time to start the last lap, she appeared to be out of contention. At the front of the race were nine riders who broke clear on the penultimate lap, and now held a gap of around 40 seconds ahead of Armitstead and the rest of the peloton – a gap that at the time appeared to be unbridgeable.

With most of the strongest nations all represented in that nine-woman group (among them Amy Pieters for the Netherlands, Audrey Cordon for France, Valentina Scandolara for Italy, Lauren Kitchen and Rachel Neylan for Australia), there was consorted chase from the peloton to bring them back. With no teammates left to help instigate a chase, Armitstead found herself in the frustrating position of having to sit back and hope another team would bridge the gap.

A Dutch cyclist chases an escape in the 2015 Womens World Road Championships

Lizzie Armitstead was forced to work hard for her win

Fortunately that is exactly what happened, when the Dutch team appeared to lose faith in Pieters’ ability to win them the race and started to set a fast pace in the peloton for Van Der Breggen. Their efforts were enough to bring the peloton back into contention, and set up a thrilling finale.

On the last ascent of Libby Hill, most of the escape group were caught, aside from Scandolara ) and Kitchen, who had attacked a few kilometres earlier. The pair had a 14 second lead by the top of the climb.

That gap turned out not to be enough on the next climb, where Armitstead moved to the front and helped reel them in. Her move was not enough to open up a gap for herself, however, and when a similar acceleration also failed to do so on the final climb, it became clear the race was going to come down to a sprint.

With only nine riders left in the group, and all of the most feared sprinters dropped in the chaos of the final few kilometres, Armitstead in theory possessed a sprint quick enough to win and duly delivered with exceptional composure and tactical awareness.

Lizzie Armitstead wins the 2015 Womens World Road Championships

Lizzie Armitstead out-paces her rivals

Earlier in the day, Felix Gall (Austria) won the junior men’s road race ahead of Clement Betouigt-Suire (France) and Rasmus Pedersen (Denmark). Great Britain’s Nathan Draper placed eighth.

The 2015 UCI Road World Championships conclude tomorrow (Sunday) with the elite men’s road race. >>> Men’s road race preview

Lizzie Armitstead wins the 2015 Womens World Road Championships

Lizzie Armitstead wins the 2015 Women’s World Road Championships

Result

Elite women’s road race, 129.8km
1. Lizzie Armitstead (Great Britain)
2. Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands)
3. Megan Guarnier (USA)
4. Elia Longo Borghini (Italy)
5. Emma Johansson (Sweden)
6. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (France)
7. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland)
8. Alena Amialiusik (Belarus)
9. Jolanda Neff (Switzerland) all same time
10. Ellen Van Dijk (Netherlands) at 9 secs

  • Brian

    Well done Lizzie!! Pity the 9 rider breakaway didn’t have more commitment might have been a different result.

  • John Senior

    Heres hoping she gets the credit she deserves – brilliant ambassador for womens cycling – national champion and world champion – and a race that was no less exciting than the mens – which I just watched. Shame on national newspapers – in particular The Guardian – which didn’t even mention the Worlds was on on Saturday let alone have a feature on Armitstead as favourite. Well done Lizzie – proud of you.

  • Vance Harvey

    Brilliant result….. Congratulations Lizzie…. I’m very proud of you 🙂

  • Mike Prytherch

    Brilliant 🙂

  • noob_sauce

    That is a crazy, strong select group in the top 9.

  • Edvid

    Those last few km were very well played. Funny that it was van der Breggen that effectively led her out after what happened in GP de Plouay (which decided the overall World Cup last month).

    For the second time in succession, a British road cyclist will wear the stripes in the build up to the Olympics. For BC, that’s a huge deal.

  • Rupert the Super Bear

    Fantastic – chapeau to Lizzie!!

  • Pete

    She is just sheer class

  • Butty

    Well done Lizzie! Cracking result!

  • Jack Beauregard

    Elisa not Elia … ciao!