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Lizzie Armitstead: I just blew up, it was so hard
Holland’s Marianne Vos won her second successive Road World Championships title with victory in Florence yesterday as Otley’s Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead trailed home in 19th place.
Olympic champion Vos triumphed on home soil last September and retained the rainbow jersey on the 140-kilometre course in Tuscany.
Vos attacked decisively on the final ascent of Via Salviati to emerge victorious, and Emma Johansson of Sweden won the sprint for second from Italy’s Rosella Ratto, 15 seconds behind the Dutchwoman.
Armitstead, 24, came home 5min 28sec down in a race in which only 46 of the 136 riders finished, with the rest of Great Britain’s team – Nikki Harris, first year senior Lucy Garner and Katie Colclough – all falling victim to the punishing final circuit.
“It was just so hard, I will look back a little disappointed,” confessed Armitstead. “The preparation I had and the people I was still with in that group, it’s not too bad.
“If you were somebody that was going to attack, you just had no chance to do it early because the course did for us, it was just so difficult. It was only really recovery on this home straight.”
Asked if she could have changed anything about her race, the British champion added: “Sometimes it’s in your head and you’re thinking ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do this’ but it was literally all physical, I just blew up.”
* Tour de France champion Chris Froome abandoned the men’s elite race today amid treacherous conditions in Tuscany that led to a disastrous day for Great Britain.
Geraint Thomas was the last of the eight Britons to pull out with 30 kilometres of the 272.5km course remaining, and the Welshman described what he witnessed on the roads as “carnage” after torrential rain resulted in a succession of crashes.
Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cav-endish fell early on, the victims of a pile-up involving multiple riders, and Steve Cummings was hit by a puncture.
With around 80km of the course left and having lost most of his team-mates, Froome withdrew from a race won by Portugal’s Rui Costa, who pipped Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain in a sprint for the line.
It ended Froome’s bid to become the first man since Greg LeMond in 1989 to win the Tour de France and World Championships road race in the same year.
“Even before going out on to the circuit there were crashes everywhere. It’s just the weather – it hadn’t let up all day,” said Froome.
“It had been raining solidly and all the drains started flooding and in some points on the road it was quite deep with water.
"People were trying to move up on the sides but were getting stuck in the gutters, causing most of the crashes. The conditions were the same for everyone so there are no excuses, we just weren’t there.
“Having trained so hard coming into this and making it such an important goal, a result here would have been a fantastic way to finish the season, but in these conditions it just wasn’t to be.”
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