Words by Owen Rogers
It was so close, but so far for Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) in today’s opening stage of the Women’s Tour in Northampton. Having missed out on the first intermediate sprint, the Olympic silver medalist started her final sprint too early, taking eighth place behind eventual winner, Emma Johansson, of Orica-AIS.
“It was really good, though I messed up a few times,” Armitstead told Cycling Weekly after the race. “The team plan to win every intermediate sprint bonus second available didn’t work out- there was no 200 metre line for the first sprint, I saw the line and thought it was the 200 to go, so I didn’t even sprint.
“In the finish I went far too early, I led Emma Johansson out and she got me by quite a long way. I sprinted with about 500 metres to go, uphill, which was far too early. I’ll learn my lesson.”
Despite the result, the Olympic silver medalist, who currently leads the Road World Cup from Johansson, enjoyed the experience. “I loved every minute of it, it was a very proud moment for me to be in that race,” she told us.
“It was so special to feel that excitement about sport in the UK again, not just cycling, everyone was so enthusiastic, it was fantastic.” Armitstead will start tomorrow’s stage in sixth place in the general classification.
It wasn’t quite the same for fellow Brit Emma Pooley (Lotto-Belisol), who finished the stage in 69th. “It was aggressive and the roads are pretty narrow, it’s a bit like some of the Belgian Classics,” she told us.
“It was stressful at times and I was on suffer street from the start, I’ve just been diagnosed with asthma and I’ve been having trouble with my breathing.”
The British circuit race champion finished third on stage one of the race behind Emma Johansson and Marianne Vos.
Lizzie Armitstead misses out in bunch sprint as Friends Life Women's Tour kicks off
World-class field of riders arrive in Britain for the Friends Life Women's Tour. Photos by Andy Jones