Cycling: Agony as Armitstead has title taken from grasp

Otley's Lizzie Armitstead, top left, celebrates her third-place finish behind winner Laura Trott, centre, and runner-up Dani King, right.
Otley's Lizzie Armitstead, top left, celebrates her third-place finish behind winner Laura Trott, centre, and runner-up Dani King, right.
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OTLEY’S defending champion Lizzie Armitstead had to settle for third place in yesterday’s British Cycling National Championships women’s road race.

Victory went to Laura Trott ahead of Dani King and Armitstead in third.

Olympic silver medallist Armitstead looked like she would defend her title as she enjoyed a 10-second lead with 5km of the 101km race to go, but double Olympic gold medallist Trott narrowed the gap and took gold after a thrilling sprint finish.

A delighted Trott said: “It’s such an amazing feeling, it’s up there with winning a world championships for me.

“I was really disappointed (after Thursday’s time-trial), I felt I had a lot more form than what the time suggested and I know the course didn’t suit me with the hill at the finish but I don’t understand why my time wasn’t good enough.

“So to come here today, I was so, so up for it.

“I woke up this morning and I was like ‘don’t even speak to me’.

“It was really early, I was so in the zone, I just wanted to get out and get it done.”

Armitstead, the British champion in 2011 and again last year, at one point had a 17-second lead on the finishing circuit as she attempted to make light of the fact that she had no team-mates to support her.

After being caught on the final lap, she said: “I’m disappointed.

“I had my normal issue of wanting to take the race on, so on every incline I gave it a go.

“I didn’t want to take it to a sprint; for me, that was more of a risk than going solo. It was just a shame that Emma Pooley chased me down on the penultimate lap, that was a bit annoying, but what can you do?”

The final eight – Trott, King, Armitstead, Pooley, Elinor Barker, Sarah Storey, Katie Archibald and Sharon Laws – were eventually selected after the bunch was whittled down on the climbs.

The ascent out of Monmouth at the 40km caused major splits which ultimately decided the final eight, after which Armitstead attacked before Trott reeled her in to claim the national jersey.

Peter Kennaugh won the men’s road race, capping off a dominant Team Sky display by out-sprinting team-mate Ben Swift, of Rotherham, to win in Abergavenny.

The pair surged clear with two laps to go and Kennaugh timed his sprint finish to perfection, using Swift’s slipstream and then overhauling his team-mate at the death to take the victory by less than a bicycle wheel in south-east Wales.

Orica-GreenEdge rider Simon Yates, who had fought valiantly to remain in contention despite Team Sky’s numbers in the leading pack, came home third, one minute and eight seconds behind the leading pair.

Early breakaway rider Luke Rowe was 30 seconds further back in fourth, while Josh Edmondson was next home as Team Sky took four of the top-five places.

Kennaugh, who had to settle for second place in 2010 and 2008 and third in 2011 and 2009, was understandably delighted to finally secure his maiden British Championships victory.

He said: “(It’s) amazing. The last lap when I was with Swifty it’s hard to race against such a good mate and play those tactics (with him) sitting on me for the whole of the last lap.

“Once I tried my luck with the attacks and the climbs and he was still with me, I thought it was game over.

“But I knew the sprint from 2009 when Kristian House beat me, I took it up really early and I knew that maybe with the last 200m downhill I stood a bit of a chance.

“So I remained positive, gave it my best shot and when I was coming round to the line I couldn’t believe it, it felt surreal.”

Scott Thwaites (centre). PIC: Bruce Rollinson

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