In the grueling final kilometers of the Elite Women’s Uci Road World Championships in Richmond, Lizzie Armitstead’s patience, preparation and determination paid off. The British rider, who rides for Boels-Dolmans Pro Cycling Team, closed gaps and simply refused to lose the final sprint to Anna Van Der Breggen of the Netherlands. American Megan Guarnier was just behind to take bronze.
For Armitstead, an Olympic road race silver medalist who thrives in one-day races, the victory is the realization of a career goal. In fact, on Boels-Dolmans’ website she even listed Richmond Worlds as a chief objective.
“This morning, I’ve never been so nervous in my life,” Armitstead said. “That’s why I was still in shock. It just went perfectly. It’s one of the things you dream about. I prepared the best I could. Physically I was in the best shape possible, and then you have to kind of have Lady Luck on your side. She was with me today…. Everything just went to plan.”
Armitstead and Guarnier, as Boels-Dolmans teammates, typically race together. Yet Saturday, they were rivals. “I wanted to go for the jersey sitting next to me,” said Guarnier, sitting next to the rainbow-jersey wearing Armitstead after the race.
The racing was aggressive throughout the 129.6 km event, and Armitstead and Guarnier afterward both talked about how good they felt even as the peloton became smaller and smaller each lap. The two women also said the professionalism of their Boels-Dolmans team helped prepare them for this day. Boels-Dolmans rides Sram’s full offerings of components: Sram Red, Zipp wheels, bars, stems and seatposts, and Quarq power measurement.
“I trust my bike more than anything, and that’s a huge advantage”, Armitstead said.
Guarnier added: “Being on Boels-Dolmans has been part of the progression… learning the culture, learning cycling, learning tactics, being over in Europe for years. It’s been incredible. What is hard at the end of the day is when you’re racing against those trade teammates”.
Guarnier also was inspired, by the thousands of enthusiastic fans who jammed the circuit in Virginia’s capital. “We just heard ‘Usa!’ all over the course, and I heard my name which is very rare for me being in Europe all the time. It’s amazing,” said Guarnier, an upstate New York native who became hooked on cycling as a student at Vermont’s Middlebury College.
With the bronze medal, Guarnier received an automatic place to compete in the 2016 Rio Games.
Photos:: ©BrakeThroughMedia, ©Balint Hamvas, Cycle Photos