Britain's Lizzie Armitstead keeps in the thick of the action in the women's road race but gets distanced over final climb as Dutchwoman Anna van der Breggen takes gold
- Photos by Graham Watson
Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) sprinted to take victory in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games women’s road race on Sunday, winning gold from a small lead group.
Emma Johansson (Sweden) came home for silver, with Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) in third for bronze. Great Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead finished out of the medal positions in fifth.
Lotte Kopecky (Belgium) was the early lone escapee in the opening kilometres of the 136.9km race, and initially gained just over two minutes on the bunch.
Armitstead suffered a set-back when she punctured very early in the race. With no race radio, team-mates Pooley and Harris were unaware of Armitstead waiting at the side of the road.
Pooley started to accelerate at the front of the bunch, inadvertently making it harder for her GB team-mate to regain contact with the bunch.
However, Armitstead did make it back after a couple of nervous minutes. The pace of the peloton then slowed as they let Kopecky forge on ahead, giving Armitstead a chance to recover.
A major move in the race inside the final 90km saw Kristin Armstrong (USA), Giorgia Bronzini (Italy), Anna Plichta (Poland), Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands) and Trixi Worrack (Germany) attack from the peloton in pursuit of Kopecky.
Pooley then attacked from the bunch with 76.5km to go alongside Gracie Elvin (Australia), to try and bridge to the group ahead. Pooley was doing all the work with Elvin sitting in her wheel and they struggled to get away.
As defending champion Marianne Vos (Netherlands) bridged over to them, Pooley sat up allowing the bunch to catch them.
Ahead, the group of five chasers reached Kopecky with 68km to go, but the peloton was right behind and they were quickly caught on the second pass of the Grumari climb.
There was then a lull in the pace as the peloton rode together. On the flat run to the final ‘Chinesa’ loop Worrack attacked again, followed by Elvin, Vos, Elena Cecchini (Italy), Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (France), Malgorzata Jasinska (Poland) and Anisha Vekemans (Belgium). The group combined to quickly put over a minute into the bunch.
By the steep uphill section of the Vista Chinesa climb and with 24km to go, the group had slim advantage on the peloton and were subsequently caught by a chasing group led by the Americans, with Armitstead present.
The lead group then split up on the tough climb, with Vos one of those dropped. Armitstead was slightly distanced, but kept a steady pace to try and limit her gap to the leaders.
Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) and Mara Abbott (USA) were clear out front by the descent, but disaster struck when Van Vleuten crashed heavily on a corner. This left Abbott alone in the lead with a half-minute advantage over the chasing group of Longo Borghini, van der Breggen and Johansson into the flat final 10km.
Abbott did her best to keep the chasers at bay, but was agonisingly caught in the final 150 metres as van der Breggen out-sprinted Johansson to take the victory. Longo Borghini came home for bronze.
Armitstead was in a second chase group, but they could not get back in touch and the British 2012 silver medallist had to settle for fifth.
The Dutch team reported after the race that van Vleuten was conscious after the crash and receiving medical attention.
Rio 2016 Olympic Games, women’s road race 136.9km
1. Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) in 3-51-27
2. Emma Johansson (Sweden)
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) at same time
4. Mara Abbott (USA) at 4 secs
5. Lizzie Armitstead (Great Britain) at 20 secs
6. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland)
7. Flavia Oliveira (Brazil)
8. Jolanda Neff (Switzerland) at same time
9. Marianne Vos (Netherlands) at 1-14
10. Ashleigh Moolman (RSA) at same time