Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead finished eighth at the Open de Suede Vårgårda road race earlier today, and in so doing won the UCI Women’s Road World Cup. She will go into the final race of the competition next week, leading Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) by 140 points, with only 120 points available for the win.
Like Friday’s team time trial, the race took place in horrendous conditions, with rain, sometimes torrential, falling throughout the 132 kilometres. It was Chantal Blaak who emerged from the gloom to cross the line first, ensuring her Specialized-Lululemon team took a clean sweep of the Swedish World Cup races. The Dutch woman sprinted clear from a group of three compatriots, who had escaped a much reduced peloton in the final three kilometres.
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The race ebbed and flowed and was absorbing throughout. Two riders went clear on the first of 12 undulating eleven kilometre circuits. Rabo-Liv brought back an early, six woman chase, then sent one of their own in another break which went clear just before half way.
Johansson was the only rider able to catch Armitstead in the World cup standings and, crucially, her Orica team missed this group. By the time they had organised themselves the gap was significant, the team using all their riders bringing them to heel, leaving the Swedish champion alone in the final.
The final few kilometres were punctuated by attacks, including those by Armitstead, “I was still treating it as a one day race and going for the win,” she told us. “I didn’t have any team mates left in the final, so I was on my own and it was a bit difficult. I was kind of marked out of the last move and in the back of my mind I had Johansson, but I was still just trying to win it.”
The Commonwealth Road Race Champion is clearly pleased with her achievement, “It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” she told Cycling Weekly after the race. “I’m really happy, especially as I never really targeted the over all.”
The World Cup concludes In France next Saturday Grand Prix Plouay – Bretagne, where Armitstead and her team aim to “Have fun and enjoy ourselves.”
UCI Women’s Road World Cup 2014 – Round 8
Open de Suede Vårgårda Road Race – Result
1. Chantal Blaak (Specialized-Lululemon) in 3-26-21
2. Amy Pieters (Giant-Shimano) at same time
3. Roxanne Knetemann (Rabo-Liv) at 1 sec
4. Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) at 5 secs
5. Kirsten Wild (Giant-Shimano)
6. Lisa Brennauer (Specialized-Lululemon)
7. Annemiek van Vleuten (Rabo-Liv)
8. Elizabeth Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans)
9. Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv)
10. Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) all same time
Commonwealth Champion Lizzie Armitstead’s Boels-Dolmans team finish third as Specialized-Lululemon take the Team Time Trial win