On the final lap, with Pooley just off the front of the lead group on the steep climb of George street, Armitstead shot clear of the five remaining leaders with eight kilometres to go and soloed through the wet streets to win with 25 seconds to spare over Pooley who took the silver medal. Mission accomplished by Team England.
After four laps of skirmishing and aggression, in which the Australian and England teams swapped attacks and accelerations, the crucial move of the race came on lap five of seven when Pooley (England) attacked up the long, wide climb of St Vincent street, taking Armitstead, Tiffeny Cromwell (Australia), women’s time trial winner Linda Villumsen (New Zealand) and Ashleigh Pasio (South Africa) with her.
On the descent, Scotland’s Katie Archibald bridged up to the leaders with Australian Gracie Elvin on her wheel and the break was made. With the two strongest riders in the Australian team, the two strongest English riders, the recently crowned Games time trial champion Villumsen and bronze medallist in the points race Archibald – you couldn’t say it wasn’t a select group.
With two laps to go, the septet had 1-20 over what was left of the bunch, who had neither the numbers nor the inclination to chase – the medals would clearly be decided by the leading seven riders.
Although there were still a few tentative attacks, it looked like the winning move would have to wait till the final lap and it was Pooley who lit the blue touch-paper with an attack on St Vincent street.
This effort – she never had more than around 10 seconds – forced the Australians to chase and, on the short, steep climb of George Street, Armitstead shot out of the chase group and went past her England team mate as though she was standing still. After briefly considering waiting for Pooley, Armitstead rocketed down the descent through Gibson street and was gone.
Behind, Pooley switched into time trial mode and held off the chasing trio of Pasio, Cromwell and Villumsen to claim silver with 25 seconds to spare, with Pasio taking the bronze in a photo finish with Cromwell.
It had been a superb, controlled display of riding by the England team, never fazed by the strong-arm tactics employed by the Australians in the opening laps, holding back until half distance and controlling affairs from the front, principally through Pooley who did a phenomenal amount of work for Armitstead once again.
Commonwealth Games 2014, Glasgow: women’s road race
1. Lizzie Armitstead (England) 98.1km in 2-38-43
2. Emma Pooley (England) at 0-25
3. Ashleigh Pasio (South Africa) at 1-11
4. Tiffany Cromwell (Australia) at st
5. Linda Villumsen (New Zealand) at 1-14
6. Gracie Elvin (Australia) at 2-19
7. Katie Archibald (Scotland) at st
8. Leah Kirchmann (Canada) at 5-29
9. Joanne Kiesanowski (New Zealand)
10. Melissa Hoskins (Australia) all at st.