Armitstead loses World Cup lead after avoiding a final corner crash

British national champion took evasive action to stay safe rather than unleash her sprint

4 February 2015 7th Ladies Tour of Qatar Stage 02 : Al Zubarah Fort - Madinat Al Shamal ARMITSTEAD Elizabeth (GBR) Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Despite her Boels-Dolmans team riding two near perfect races, Lizzie Armitstead’s World Cup lead slipped away in the final corner of Sunday's Crescent Vårgårda road race.

Last year’s World Cup winner was in a good position as she prepared for the sprint, however, a rider crashed in front of her and she was forced to take avoiding action, finishing in 19th position.

The race was won by Wiggle-Honda’s Belgian national champion Jolien D’hoore, who now takes the leader’s jersey into the final round next week.

Rounds eight and nine of the World Cup in Sweden consisted of Friday’s 42.5km team time trial and a 133.5km road race run on Sunday.

The Rabo-Liv team of La Course winner Anna van der Breggen won the time trial after battling throughout the race with Armitstead’s Boels-Dolmans and World Champions Velocio-SRAM.

All three teams were locked together at the first two time checks, however Rabo-Liv eventually established an advantage, winning by 26 seconds on the undulating course in the town of Vårgårda, east of Gothenburg.

Boels-Dolmans finished in third place, behind Velocio-SRAM, the result meaning van der Breggen moved into second in the overall standings, behind Armitstead, going into Sunday's road race.

The road race consisted of 7 laps of an 11km circuit, preceded by a longer loop which finished with a stretch of gravel. The first part of the race was relatively benign, a lone escapee allowed to build a gap of 50 seconds before being caught after the gravel section onto which the peloton raced for position, closing the gap significantly.

>>> Lizzie Armitstead targets World Championships success (video)

The final laps brought hard aggressive racing, Boels-Dolmans controlling the race and covering repeated moves from both Velocio-SRAM and Orica-AIS. Indeed much of the final 50km saw the peloton stretched in single file under the pressure of persistent attacks. Throughout the race Commonwealth champion Armitstead was perfectly positioned and well supported by her team mates.

The intense pressure saw a small group of approximately 25 riders enter the final kilometre and it was here Armitstead came to grief when Carmen Small (Bigla) crashed on the final corner. Forced to unclip to avoid crashing, Armitstead lost momentum and was unable to get back on terms.

“Lizzie is fine, but she is disappointed,” Boels-Dolmans Ds Danny Stam told Cycling Weekly. “When you are World Cup leader you do not want to give that away.

“Actually I was hoping the race was a little bit harder, we planned to split the group three or four laps before the finish and put Lizzie on Jolien [D’hoore] and Anna van der Breggen. That way she keeps the points and we also had the chance to win the race with somebody else. There was a small group, but Lizzie was totally blocked in the sprint by a crash.”

>>> Lizzie Armitstead expects Dutch challenge in World Championships road race

Armitstead goes into the final World Cup race, the GP Plouay-Bretagne next Saturday, in third place over all, 32 points behind D’hoore and 21 behind van der Breggen. Armitstead has targeted the race as one to win ahead of the World Championships next month, and the course certainly suits her strengths, though to regain the World Cup she will need to finish well ahead of the other two.

Women’s World Cup - Round 8, Crescent Vårgåda Team Time Trial

1. Rabo-Liv 52.21

2. Velocio-SRAM +0.26

3. Boels-Dolmans +0.29

4. Bigla Pro Cycling +0.49

5. Wiggle-Honda +1.31

6. Liv-Plantur +2.10

7. BTC City Ljubljana +2.55

8. Orica-AIS +2.55

9. Hitec Products +3.08

10. Bepink La Classica +3.39

Women’s World Cup - Round 9, Crescent Vårgårda Road Race

1. Jolien D’hoore Wiggle-Honda 3:19:23

2. Giorgia Bronzini Wiggle-Honda

3. Lisa Brennauer Velocio-SRAM

4. Lucinda Brand Rabo-Liv +01

5. Anna van der Breggen Rabo-Liv

6. Amy Pieters Liv-Plantur

7. Tiffany Cromwell Velocio-SRAM +03

8. Emma Johansson Orica-AIS

9. Shelly Olds Alé-Cipollini +06 10. Lauren Kitchen Hitec Products

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