Armitstead claims final sprint and is crowned overall winner of the UCI Women Road World Cup
Lizzie Armitstead was crowned the winner of the UCI Women Road World Cup for the second time. She won the final sprint ahead of Emma Johansson (Orica AIS) and Pauline Ferrand Prévot (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team) in the final round at the GP de Plouay-Bretagne, France.
With her win, Armistead (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) reclaimed her overall 2015 UCI Women Road World Cup winner jersey, lost to Jolien d’Hoore (Wiggle Honda), last weekend in Vargarda. The latter was not present in Plouay.
Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team) won the overall best young rider classification. Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team also won the best team prize for 2015.
The final SufferPrize by The Sufferfest of the year was awarded to Boels Dolmans Cycling Team Evelyn Stevens for her ruthless attacks and amazing show of strength throughout the race.
A perfect display of what women racing has to offer
The 121km race was off to fast start, although the pace only started picking up at the first ascent of the steep Côte de Ty Marrec. This short yet very steep section would be one of the most exciting features of the day and the riders would have to tackle it five times.
An early break saw the quartet of Katrin Garfoot (Orica AIS), Elena Berlato (Ale Cipollono), Doris Schweizer (Bigla Pro Cycling Team), Molly Weaver (Team Liv-Plantur) gain 20 seconds on the peloton before being brought back shortly after. Flavia Oliveira (Ale Cipollini) counter attacked immediately. Alone, she stretched out her advantage to 15 seconds before the peloton finally began to make headway.
As the front of the race was getting faster and faster, riders were dropped. Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) was keen to make this race as hard as she could on the second ascent of the Côte de Ty Marrec. Team mate Lizzie Armitstead needed to win this race at least two places ahead of Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team) to win the overall World Cup.
With 55-km to go Marion Sicot (France National Team) and Anna Stricker (INPA Sottoli Giusfredi) decided to make a break for it. They were joined by a strong of group including Flavia Oliveira (Ale Cipollini), Emma Johansson (Orica AIS), Shara Gillow (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team), Elena Berlato (Ale Cipollini), Elena Cecchini (Lotto Soudal Ladies) and Evelyn Stevens (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team).
As the group got caught and with 45-km to go, Lizzie Armistead (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) attacked with World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team) on her wheel. This move was immediately followed by a counter attack from Evelyn Stevens (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team).
These relentless moves split the peloton to bits: the battle had only just begun. Attacks after attacks followed from local rider Aude Biannic (Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope 86), Mayuko Hagiwara (Wiggle Honda), Lizzie Williams (Orica AIS), Evelyn Stevens (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team), Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team) and Ashleigh Moolman (Bigla Pro Cycling Team), but nothing stuck.
To this point, there had been many unsuccessful skirmishes and they were only merely a taste of what was still to come.
The first race changing event of the day was Evelyn Stevens (Boels Dolmans Cyclin Team) final escape. She was followed by Elena Cecchini (Lotto Soudal Ladies) and Claudia Lichtenberg (Team Liv Plantur). They got away on the final ascent of the Côte de Ty Marrec only to be reeled by a determined Pauline Ferrand Prévot (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team).
And when we though no one could possibly have anything left in the tank, it was Armitstead who again attacked just 3.6-km to the finish line. A new elite group was formed, the same group that would contest the final sprint. Van der Breggen needed to follow Armitstead’s every move: it was her World Cup title to lose.
In the final hundred metres Armitstead opened the sprint. Van der Breggen failed to match her speed. Armitstead made it across the line with just enough time to zip up her jersey and enjoy every second of her glory. Emma Johansson (Orica AIS) and Pauline Ferrand Prévot (Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team) were the only two able to respond to the British champion’s acceleration to finish second and third respectively. It’s a double victory for Armitstead who goes home with not only the round 10 win but also the overall UCI Women Road World Cup, for the second year in a row.