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Lizzie Armitstead wasn’t even born when a British rider last won a medal in the women’s points race at a World Championships.
Welsh rider Sally Hodge won the very first points race rainbow jersey at the track Worlds held at Ghent, Belgium, in summer 1988. A few months later, in December, Armitstead was born.
Even as British Cycling has assembled the strongest team in track cycling, the the women’s bunch races have been a problem area.
Traditionally the pursuit riders have dabbled, but without much success. In recent years Nicole Cooke was persuaded to make an appearance at a Manchester World Cup – an experiment that proved disastrous because she crashed and broke a collarbone. Victoria Pendleton has had a go, then at the Olympic Games in Beijing the way places were allocated, Rebecca Romero had to ride the points race with very little experience.
Last year, Lizzie Armitstead emergence had people excited that Great Britain had a rider who can cross from the road to the track and back again, competing in both. Her ride at the road World Championships last year was impressive, as she got into the big break of the day that took the pressure off Nicole Cooke and the rest of her team-mates.
Over the winter, she impressed in the colours of Team 100% ME, forming a very strong team pursuit trio, winning the scratch race World Cup title and also getting results in the points race.
On Thursday, the 20-year-old from Yorkshire picked herself up after a crash in the scratch race to grab a silver medal.
Today (Sunday) she avoided the two big spills that punctuated the points race and timed her moves intelligently. She bided her time until the sixth and seventh sprint, when she moved up to fourth place.
With two sprints to go Italy’s Giorgia Bronzini was in a strong position and Armitstead had slipped to fifth place.
But the British rider seized the initiative and was second in the penultimate sprint to put one hand on the bronze medal again.
In the final sprint, she had to be alert, especially when the Cuban Yumari Gonzalez Valdivieso, went early. The Cuban had pipped Armitstead in the scratch race, and so she reacted promptly. Although Belinda Goss of Australia took second place on the line, third was enough to preserve Armitstead’s bronze medal, at the expense of Cui Wang of China, who slipped from second.
Armitstead said: “The first half, I wanted to roll with the wheels and roll with the points, because I thought one of my strengths would be when the sprinters hadn?t got so much sparkle, but I didn?t have the legs to do it.
“I may have something to with one of the crashes but I came off ok, first gold medal for GB in bunch race since 1988. Now I?m off to Belgium with a pro team out there until October, so no real rest, alhough I might take a couple of days off now.
“I think my body woke up really sick after the big crash in the scratch, my body?s gone into recovery mode, So this is the medal I?m happiest with.”
Armitstead will leave a winter of solid track work behind her as a multiple World Cup winner, a team pursuit world champion and with a silver and bronze medal from the two bunch races.
1. Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) 18pts
2. Yumari Gonzalez Valdivieso (Cub) 15pts
3. Lizzie Armitstead (GB) 13pts
4. Cui Wang (Chn) 12pts
5. Belinda Goss (Aus) 10pts
6. Svetlana Pauliukaite (Ltu) 9pts
7. Leira Olaberria (Spa) 8pts
8. Jarmila Machacova (Cze) 7pts
9. Wan Yiu Wong (HK) 6pts
10. Elke Gebhardt (Ger) 3pts
2009 UCI TRACK CYCLING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
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The CW Hub: Track World Championships index
Women’s points race: Armitstead proves she’s a future champion
Men’s Madison: Danes win as Kennaugh hits the deck
Women’s sprint: Pendleton wins fourth title
Women’s scratch race: Silver for Armitstead
Men’s kilo TT: Nimke beats Sir Chris’s kilo record to take gold
Men’s team pursuit: Britain get fourth
Women’s team pursuit: Britain clinch gold
women’s team sprint: Reade and Pendleton score silver
Men’s scratch race: Cavendish marked out of contention
Men’s individual pursuit: Phinney wins gold
Men’s team sprint: France beat Britain
Men’s Points Race: Newton gets bronze
Women’s individual pursuit: Houvenaghel beaten to silver
500m TT: World record for Krupeckaite, bronze for Pendleton
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2008 TRACK WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS LINKS
Full results from the 2008 track worlds
Report: Sunday, day five>>
Report: Saturday, day four>>
Report: Friday, day three>>
Report: Thursday, day two>>
Report: Wednesday, day one>>