Worlds – Women’s Title Goes to France


In an extraordinary finish where four of the best in the World waited for a chase group, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot took full advantage to win the World Title

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Worlds – Women’s Title Goes to France

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It was a nail biting finish to the most important women’s road race of the year and it showed that fortune favours the brave as France’s Pauline Ferrand-Prevot came from the back to catch the likes of Vos and Armitstead in the finishing straight before sprinting to victory.

On the final climb, four of the best riders in the world, Lizzie Armistead, Marianne Vos, Emma Johannason and Longo Borghini went clear but with a lack of commitment to the move, and more often than not, attacking each other, the chase group behind stayed in touch and when in sight of the line, the four at the front turned around as if to wait for the rest, the race was turned on its head.

From that chase group, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot took full advantage to win the World Title. Out of the four leaders, only one, Johansson, got a medal in the sprint.

The early part of the race saw a lot of nervous energy being wasted in crashes with former double world champion Lucy Garner being a victim as was Alice Barnes. The peloton continued to cruise with the average speed well below 40k an hour until the final three laps before riders started to chance their legs.

Once Slovenian Kern was brought back from a long solo effort, the peloton with four British riders, Hannah Barnes, Annie Last, Anna Christian and Lizzie Armitstead started to string out as the non-sprinters knew they had to hurt the legs of the fast women in the group.

Despite being so young, Anna Christian from the Isle of Man was repeatedly going to the front and working for Lizzie with the odd dig here and there and so did Hannah Barnes. Annie Last too was at Lizzie’s side and as the pace started to rise on those final three laps, the peloton started to shrink.

Around 40k to go, and Lizzie pressed hard on the pedals for a few seconds and she was given no room to open a gap as her rivals were straight on the testing move. Then, after a dry race until that point, rain started to fall as the attacks and counter attacks were flowing nicely.

The peloton would split and then regroup and it was looking more and more like a bunch kick until a small group of five went clear with the many of the big nations represented. Lizzie, for the first time was not at the front and had missed it but so had the Americans, Vos etc.

A chase then ensued before there was a regrouping before the American Stevens had a few digs. The German Worrack was also very active, at the back one minute, and then attacking for her team the next. With 11k to go, the peloton split again for the umpteenth time but as happened so often before, a lack of commitment, or perhaps more from the chasers, saw the group come together.

Then the fireworks with 5k to go lit the race up. Johannson attacked and Vos came to her with Lizzie on her wheel before the British girl countered. The Italian was not interested in working and that perhaps influenced the rest with Lizzie playing a good game at the back, following the right wheels. Johannson went again but nothing was escaping Vos and Armitstead.

Worse though was on the horizon. The chasers though were coming back quickly and a look behind confirmed to Lizzie that they needed more speed. Instead of attacking though, she rolled to the front and then all four inexplicably sat up with the finish line in sight leaving the race to be decided in a sprint for the line with Ferrand-Prevot getting the verdict.

Armitstead had seemingly played a good tactic by taking Bronzini’s wheel once caught but it all got messy and she and the Brit were boxed in and even the very quick Bronzini (twice a world champion) failed to get through the traffic to win a medal.

It was a negative race said Lizzie afterwards. “I put all my eggs in one basket on that last climb really,” a disappointed Armitstead told BBC’s Jill Douglas. “In the sprint I got Bronzini’s wheel but I thought that was the best option and just messed it up. It’s difficult to refocus with 500-metres to go in a sprint when you’ve just committed to that move. It was just a negative race. Maybe I’m too aggressive. Maybe one day I’ll learn.”

1. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (France)
2. Lisa Brennauer (Germany)
3. Emma Johansson (Sweden)
4. Giorgia Bronzini (Italy)
5. Tiffany Cromwell (Australia)
6. Shelley Olds (United States of America)
7. Elizabeth Armitstead (Great Britain)
8. Linda Villumsen (New Zealand)
9. Hanna Solovey (Ukraine)
10. Marianne Vos (Netherlands)

38. Annie Last (Great Britain) @ 3.06

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