Lizzie Armitstead became the first British women to win the Women’s Road Cup World in two consecutive years today, sprinting to win the GP Plouay Bretagne on Saturday.
Her over all success is more surprising after losing the leader’s jersey last week when her sprint was baulked by a crash, leaving her trailing the favourite Anna van der Breggen by 21 points.
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The first half of the race was uneventful, the peloton rolling through the picturesque Brittany countryside. However, in the second half a number of selections were made leaving an elite group to compete for the win. Armitstead’s attack on the final climb of the Ty Marec was neutralised, leaving a group of five who were caught in the final 200 metres as the sprint opened up.
“I put in my race winning move over the climb, and thought ‘oh no it’s finishing with a sprint again,’” the Boels-Dolmans rider told Cycling Weekly.
“It probably looked pretty strange on the TV, we approached the line at a snails pace! I slowed it right down so I could see who was going, Elisa [Longo-Borghini, Wiggle-Honda] went early, which was great and Anna [van der Breggen] closed it. I just went of or it. I’m so relieved, it’s so good.”
Armitstead had targeted the French race as one to win and was unlikely to have won the World Cup without the race victory. She had started the race third in the standings and, whilst first placed Jolien D’hoore did not compete, she needed van der Breggen to finish third or lower to secure the title. The Dutch woman finished sixth, allowing the Yorkshire born Armitstead to take the jersey.
“I was pretty pissed off last week, frustrated,” she said. “I finished that race with a lot of regrets, I had a lot in the tank still, it was so disappointing. We went down 21 points and I thought that’s it, the World Cup is over. It was a stupid way to lose it.”
“I’m so proud of the way we rode as a team today, we got it exactly right, I wouldn’t have won it without them. I was worried about being isolated but we were stronger and we did it. I’m just very proud of the team effort.”
Plouay was Armitstead’s third World Cup race win out of ten event this year, having won the Trofeo Alfredo Binda last March and the Parx Casino Philly Classic in June and, whilst her World Cup winning margin was less that last year, the race victories have proved her pedigree as one of the World’s top one day competitors.
This year is highly likely to be the final Women’s World Cup ever, the competition is due to be expanded and replaced with the new Women’s World Tour in 2016. The World Tour will consist of one day and stage races, the identity of which will be announced by the UCI in the next few weeks.