Otley rider Lizzie Armitstead crashes on La Course

Lizzie Armitstead

Lizzie Armitstead

First published in Sport
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Lizzie Armitstead crashed during the inaugural La Course by Le Tour in Paris as world and Olympic champion Marianne Vos won on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday.

Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) attacked at the start of the last of 13 laps of the 89-kilometre race, but was edged into the safety barrier inside the final kilometre by Annemiek van Vleuten, one of Vos' team-mates.

An aggressive race which featured numerous attempts to avoid a bunch sprint finished with the pack tearing down the Champs-Elysees and Vos (Rabo-Liv) dug deep to hold off fellow Dutchwoman Kirsten Wild (Giant-Shimano).

Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans), the Olympic silver medallist behind Vos on The Mall two summers ago, picked herself up to finish more than three minutes behind, in 94th place, nursing a bloody elbow and battered pride.

The 25-year-old from Otley, who required stitches but will be fine for next Sunday's Commonwealth Games road race in Glasgow, said: "I had a bit of bad luck in the race. I dropped my chain two times so I had to change the bike two times.

"And then in the final I was a little bit out of position but I was pretty okay because I was on Vos' wheel so I wasn't too panicked.

"But her team-mate just put me in the barrier, Annemiek van Vleuten. She turned right on me and took her team-mate down as well (the French champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot)."

The race took place on the final day of the 101st Tour de France, which began in Leeds on July 5, and was an opportunity for women's cycling to showcase itself on cycling's most famous road finishing circuit.

"I wanted to put on a show and maybe it was a bit silly but I'm not an out and out sprinter," Armitstead said of her foiled attack.

"Today it was really special for me because obviously the Tour started in Yorkshire and I heard lots of chants of 'Yorkshire' as I was riding around today.

"Just to be riding around Paris is not something I ever expected to experience.

"It just made me proud of where women's cycling is at the moment."

Emma Pooley was proud, too, as one of four women - alongside Vos, American Kathryn Bertine and former triathlete Chrissie Wellington, all part of Le Tour Entier campaign group - who petitioned Tour de France organisers Amaury Sports Organisation to put on a women's race.

"It was an amazing experience," said Pooley (Lotto-Belisol), who was 84th in a race which did not suit her climbing ability.

"This race is just brilliant for women's cycling. I don't know how exciting it was to watch... better than pedalling around drinking bottles of champagne slowly."

That was a reference to the ceremonial finish to the men's race.

Pooley hopes for further opportunities for women's cycling now.

She said: "I'd love to see more long women's stage races alongside the men's races, but at the moment it will take time to develop.

"That's not up to me. ASO don't have some kind of duty to put on women's races, they're a money-making organisation.

"If it's a success because of the audience and their response is because of the audience, then it will expand because it's a good financial proposition.

"It's a huge missed opportunity at the moment, financially. Think of the number of women who ride bikes nowadays."

Pooley will now ride Thursday's time-trial at the Commonwealth Games for England, a race from which Armitstead had already withdrawn to focus on Sunday's road race over the circuit on which she won the 2013 British title.

Armitstead, who also had a sore shoulder, added: "I'll be fine, it's just a nuisance. It's not ideal obviously but I'm 100 per cent sure I have not broken anything."

ends

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