Following the men’s road race yesterday, the women’s road race was looking interesting. After the major crashes yesterday including a double collarbone break for Vincenzo Nibali, a pelvis break for Sergio Henao and a shoulder blade break for Richie Porte, how would the women fare? There was scepticism that everyone would get down the mountain in one piece without ending up in the gutter just like some of the men.
The course for the women was similar to the men’s. They did 2 laps of the Grumari circuit and only 1 lap of the Vista Chinesa circuit. Again, the race favoured classics riders like Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) and current world champion Lizzie Armistead (Great Britain).
The race started with a mechanical issue for Armistead at 11km but she worked her way back up through the team cars to join the peloton. Soon after the first attack of the day came from Lotte Kopecky from Belgium. She gained a considerable gap, getting nearly 3 minutes break from the peloton when Romy Kasper (Germany) attacked and she too gained a gap. The peloton left the two attackers for a few kilometres before they decided to do something about them. The peloton ranked up the pace a little and Kasper was brought back into the peloton and then 5 riders attacked and became the chasers, trying to catch Kopecky.
The action started to happen at around 60km when Gracie Elvin (Australia), former world champion Marianne Vos (Netherlands) and Armistead’s team mate Emma Pooley attacked and got small gap from the peloton. It looked like it could have been quite successful but no one would work with Pooley so they were brought back into the peloton. The peloton then stepped it up and reeled in original attacker Kopecky and everyone was together again.
But not for long though when Audrey Corden (France) attacks and is leading for a while before again being brought back into the peloton. A breakaway forms including Marianne Vos. This breakaway is caught at the bottom of the last climb when Vos and Armistead are dropped from the leading group.
With less than ¼ of the race left, favourite Anna van der Breggen and 6 others were in the leading group, Armistead chasing. The pace increased and two riders were dropped from the leading group. Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) increases the pace in the lead group and van der Breggen is dropped, leaving only two riders left in the lead group.
The two riders in the lead group, van Vlueten and Mara Abbott (USA) battle it out on the tricky descent before the flat runout to the finish, van Vlueten having the advantage of being the better descender. Van Vlueten had a considerable gap before she took a horrific crash and ended up lying in an awkward position, unconscious on the side of the road. This of course, gave the American the advantage.
The American lead the race all of the way along the flat, while three riders who had been dropped were gaining on her. She lead all of the way until the left hand bend beside the Copacabana before the three chasing riders caught her and got the medals. A very good sprint from Anna van der Breggen to claim gold, Emma Johansson (Sweden) was 2nd and Italian Elisa Longo Borghini grabbed the last medal. Mara Abbott, the American finished just behind them after a sterling effort in the last 8km on the flat, just to be beaten in the last 200m.
British favourite Lizzie Armistead finished 5th, 20 seconds after the Olympic champion after chasing all of the way from the top of the hill.
Bio: “I have been racing cross county mountain bike at regional level for 4 years now, stepping it up to national level two years ago. I have been on Scottish Youth Performance squads for three years and this year I have been selected to represent Scotland at the Inter-regional mountain championships. I am a level one coach in cycling. In school I do a lot of work with the PE department and I am one of my schools Young Ambassadors who deals with sport within the school and community. I am on the Young Ambassador Conference Team with SportScotland and I also write my own blog (www.beingagirlmtber.