The road race at the World Road Championships over the weekend delivered a nail biting finish with France’s Pauline Ferrand Prevot taking gold. The sprint was so close that Ferrand Prevot was unaware of her victory until she was informed by officials. At which point the exhausted looking riding promptly burst into tears.
It was a day of surprises all round.Marianne Vos, who has finished in one of the top two spots at the World Road Championships every year since 2006 finished in 10th while British favourite Lizzie Armitstead finished in 7th place.
Speaking to the BBC immediately after the race, disappointment was etched across the face of Armitstead. “The race was just too easy – that sounds ridiculous but it was,” Armitstead told BBC Sport. “It needed to be harder earlier in the race but everyone played the sprinter card.
Armitstead played it safe throughout the race, staying in the shelter of the peloton, near the front of the race supported by teammates Hannah Barnes and Anna Christian throughout. The British riders attacked on the penultimate climb before Marianne Vos, Emma Johansson and Elisa Longo Borghini along with Armitstead attacked on the final climb.
Instead of working together though, the girls began looking at each other allowing the trailing group containing Ferrand Prevot to catch them just 500m from the finish of the 127.4km race. The two groups merged and a frantic sprint ensued.
Vos lead the final sprint but it was clear that she simply did not have the legs to hold on to the rainbow jersey. Meanwhile Armitstead who had decided to take Giorgia Bronzini’s wheel in the approach to the finish struggled to get a competitive line.
“I put all my eggs in one basket on the last climb,” said Armitstead. “I got Bronzini’s wheel for the sprint as it seemed the best option but I messed up, it was hard to refocus for the sprint.
Ferrand Prevot however was a deserving winner while Lisa Brennauer of Germany and Emma Johansson of Sweden took silver and gold respectively with Giorgia Bronzini in fouth place, all crossing the line millimetres apart.
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