Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead claimed a frustrating seventh place in the World Championships road-race, and afterwards strongly criticised what she called “negative racing” by her rivals.
Armitstead was one of the few top riders battling to avoid a bunch sprint finale, and after six of the seven laps had seen very little aggressive riding, the Yorkshirewoman finally forced an opening in the front group when she attacked on the last climb. The only three riders able to follow her driving move were defending world champion Marianne Vos, Sweden’s Emma Johannson and Italian Elisa Longo Borghini.
However, despite the quartet opening up a 14-second gap on the fast final descent into Ponferrada, the lack of collaboration saw the four-rider move swamped by a much larger chase group. Vos’ trade team-mate Pauline Ferrand Prevot, of France, then took the bunch sprint, while a frustrated Armitstead finished seventh.
Armitstead revealed afterwards she asked for collaboration in the four-rider break. “[But] they were just shaking their heads at me.
“I can understand Elisa. She is not going to win from that group, so she is better off waiting for [Italian sprinter] Giorgia Bronzini. Marianne? I don’t know why she didn’t work. And [2013 silver medallist] Emma Johansson, for sure, I don’t know why she didn’t work.”
Speaking before she knew that Johannson had taken bronze in the bunch sprint, Armitstead, said: “[Now] she has another silver medal. Maybe she likes them – I don’t know.”
Asked if she would take time to get over her defeat, Armitstead said: “I don’t know. I’m gutted. I’m really gutted.
“I’m sure there will be plenty of people telling me what I could have done better. I just have to keep learning.”
Vos later defended her decision not to collaborate with Armitstead, saying she was not confident of beating the Briton, and that, “I was racing to win, not to get a medal”. Johannson argued that she had not wanted to run out of energy by working to take the four-rider group to the finish, then not being able to fight for a medal in the sprint.
Sunday’s final event in the World Championships, the elite men’s road-race, sees Ben Swift leading a nine-man British team in a bid to repeat Mark Cavendish’s victory in Denmark three years ago. Third in the similarly hilly Milan-San Remo Classic this spring, Swift’s ideal finale would see him fighting a small group bunch sprint against the top favourites – Germany’s John Degenkolb, Australian Michael Matthews and Spain’s Alejandro Valverde.Reuse content