Britain's Lizzie Armitstead held off Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands, American Megan Guarnier and a world of possibilities to become the Elite Women's World Champion in Richmond, Virginia today. Armistead and the peloton rejoined a very convincing attack on the final lap of the course, swallowing up a one-minute deficit to come back just in time for the final two climbs of the day, 23rd Street and Governor Street, and ending in a small bunch sprint on Broad Street which Armistead won convincingly. She came up the center of the road, at the front of a dozen riders, with van der Breggen to her left and the remaining sprinters a couple bike lengths behind, and held on to win by a wheel. Guarnier took third by a couple bike lengths over Italy's Elisa Longo Borghini.
It was a tactical day of racing, to say the least. The Dutch squad kept things under wraps and even got Chantal Blaak away alone with three laps to go. The break was absorbed in time for a nine rider escape, which Poland's Malgorzata Jasinska massively invigorated over the final 40 minutes via a solo attack that almost put the peloton out of the race and left the other eight gasping for breath. During the final lap Jasinska was said to have held a one-minute lead over the peloton, though just precious few seconds up on her break-mates.
Once Jasinska was caught, Australia's Lauren Kitchen and Valentina Scandolara Italy eventually countered inside the final 8km with a strong move while the remaining chasers seemed to lose steam along the James River, approaching Libby Hill. It was then that the peloton came up, indicating the loss of steam by the break. Kitchen and Scandolara exited Libby Hill with the entire peloton nipping at their heels, and by the top of 23rd street it was a new ballgame.
For Armitstead, the victory takes her to the top of the mountain at last. She is wrapping up a second year as the World Cup leader and came second in the London Olympics, but has never come as close to a world championship before seventh last year and second in the team time trial last Sunday. Van der Breggen caps a brilliant year of her own with a third medal this week, after taking silver in the time trial and bronze in the team crono. Guarnier's bronze drove the crowd wild as the host nation scored its eighth medal (counting BMC's team time trial win), including its first of the senior road race events. Results:
- Lizzie Armitstead, Great Britain
- Anna van der Breggen, Netherlands, s.t.
- Megan Guarnier, USA, s.t.
- Elisa Longo Borghini, Italy, s.t.
- Emma Johansson, Sweden, s.t.
- Pauline Ferrand Prevot, France, s.t.
- Katarzyna Niewiadoma, Poland, s.t.
- Alena Amialiusik, Belarus, s.t.
- Jolanda Neff, Switzerland, s.t.
- Ellen van Dijk, Netherlands, s.t.