There was not a dry eye in the house as the Commonwealth Games 2014 concluded with the women’s road race yesterday. It was after all the final time we would see Emma Pooley in the professional peloton as she announced her retirement last week. And as she crossed the line in floods of tears, claiming her second silver medal at the Commonwealth Games 2014, it was obvious Pooley would miss the peloton almost as much as they would miss her.
It was a glorious goodbye for Pooley though as she showed the world exactly what makes her so special. For teammate Lizzie Armitstead it was also an emotional day – she finally got that gold medal she has come to close to so many times. Speaking to the BBC, Armitstead was clearly over the moon: “This is something I have always dreamed about; it means so much to me. I am always a runner-up.”
England showed incredible team work in the women’s road race as teammates Dani King, Laura Trott and Hannah Barnes controlled the race, reeling in any threatening attacks for the first 50km or so and testing the strength of their rival’s legs with short, sharp bursts. It was in the final 40km that the race really heated up though.
Led by Armitstead, and Pooley, a five woman break, which proved to be decisive moved away from the main bunch. Pooley then launched a solo effort forcing their main rivals in the breakaway to follow. Armitstead hung on, choosing her moment to launch an explosive attack up Great George Street in Glasgow, around 8km from the finish.
Armitstead rode past her teammate Pooley and breezed through to the finish line, savouring the moment in the final metres knowing that on this occasion, nobody could take gold away from her.
It was a battle hard fought for Armitstead who missed out on gold to Rochelle Gilmore at the last Commonwealths in Delhi and to Marianne Vos at the London Olympics 2012. We had also seen a run of bad luck for Armitstead at the inaugural Women’s Tour when she was forced to retire early from the race due to illness and was denied any chance of glory at La Course by Le Tour de France due to a dramatic crash on the final straight.
“I am really happy,” said Armitstead to the Telegraph. “That was the best cycling teamwork I have ever been a part of. It’s such a shame Emma is retiring today – it was a fantastic job from her and all the girls and I am really proud of them.”
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