OTLEY cycling star Lizzie Armitstead led an England one-two ahead of retiring team-mate Emma Pooley in a sensational Commonwealth Games women’s road race on the final day of Glasgow 2014.
Pooley, in her last race before switching to endurance triathlons, played a brilliant selfless role in the 98-kilometres event – seven laps of a 14km undulating course – and finished with silver as Armitstead triumphed.
Armitstead finished with silver behind Australia’s Rochelle Gilmore in Delhi four years ago and claimed Britain’s first medal of London 2012, with Olympic silver behind Marianne Vos of Holland.
Now the 25-year-old Yorkshire rider has the title she has long craved and how she deserved it after producing a performance which was full of tactical nous and talent.
Armitstead, a 2009 team pursuit world champion on the track, won the 2013 British title on the same Glasgow course, albeit with an extra lap, and was confident heading into the race, determined to shed her perennial runner-up status.
And she did it with style. Bo doubt there were thousands of people back hopme in Otley screaming at their TV sets and willing her on.
But Armitstead did get a considerable helping hand from her team.
Pooley initiated the burst which led to the formation of a select group of seven riders on the fifth lap.
Pooley continued to attack in tactics which played into English hands. If she could go alone, she would; if she was chased, Armitstead was present.
Armitstead, who crashed out of contention in last Sunday’s La Course by Le Tour in Paris, had wanted a tough race and difficult conditions and the rain began to fall on the penultimate lap.
Pooley attacked alone and Armitstead joined her on Great George Street before accelerating ahead alone at the point where she made her move in the British Championships.
Armitstead then soloed to a stunning triumph, with a tearful Pooley 25 seconds behind.
Bronze went to South Africa’s Ashleigh Pasio in a photo finish ahead of Australia’s Tiffany Cromwell.
Scotland’s Katie Archibald fell out of contention on the final lap.
Armitstead had the support of a stellar team – Trott, Dani King, two-time world junior champion Lucy Garner, Hannah Barnes and Pooley – but even followed attacks on her own, perhaps to show she was feeling strong.
After clinching the title she has long craved, Armitstead said: “I just feel like I deserve it.
“I’ve trained so hard. I’m always on the podium but I don’t win that many races.
“It’s just a confidence thing. Once you’ve got a big title you can call yourself a champion finally.
“Hopefully it will bode well for the rest of the season.
“The psychologists tell you it should never be a relief when you win a race but to tell you the truth it is.”
She added: “I am really happy. That was the best cycling teamwork I have ever been a part of.
“It’s such a shame Emma is retiring – it was a fantastic job from her and all the girls and I am really proud of them.”
Pooley added: “That was unexpected! We were working for Liz and I wanted to do everything for her. When she came past me and I was still clear [of the chasers], I thought I might as well keep going. It’s been a long nine years, and it was nice to finish on a high.”