GLASGOW (AFP) — England claimed a one-two finish in the women’s road race here on Sunday as Lizzie Armitstead went one better than in New Delhi four years ago to claim Commonwealth gold.
It was an historic moment for Armitstead as she won England’s 2000th Commonwealth Games medal. Only Australia has won more.
The 25-year-old finished the 98.14km course around the streets of Glasgow in two hours, 38 minutes and 43 seconds.
Teammate Emma Pooley finished 25 seconds behind to add another silver to the one she won in the time trial.
A photo finish saw South Africa’s Ashleigh Pasio claim her country’s first road race medal as she just edged Australia’s Tiffany Cromwell for bronze following a dramatic sprint to the line.
For Armitstead, the win allows her to banish the memories of finishing second in New Delhi and at the 2012 London Olympics.
“I can call myself a champion finally. It’s special and something I’ve always dreamed about,” Armitstead said.
“I just feel like I deserve this. I’ve trained so hard and I’m always on the podium but I don’t win too many races.
“The psychologists tell you it should never be a relief when you win a race but to tell you the truth it is.”
Armitstead owes her gold in no small part to the selfless riding of teammate Pooley.
After an aggressive start from the Australians, who took turns surging off the front, England made its move with 40km to go as Pooley led a breakaway.
The leading group of Armitstead, Australia’s Cromwell and Gracie Elvin, Linda Villumsen of New Zealand, South Africa’s Pasio and Katie Archibald of Scotland soon opened up a large gap over the chasing pack with two laps to go thanks to Pooley’s churning pace at the front.
The gap continued to increase and a burst of pace from Pooley with 12km to go saw her speed off at the front with the rest of the pack working hard to reel her in.
Armitstead then attacked 6km from the line to go clear as the English team tactics worked to perfection.
“Emma had a fantastic race and was so strong throughout. I’m really grateful to her for all the sacrificing she did,” Armitstead said.
“She really deserves her silver and she got her tactics spot on today.”
Pooley was delighted to finish second in her final race before retiring.
“The whole team did a great job but my job was to make the race hard and to come out with a silver medal is obviously fantastic and unexpected as well,” the 31-year-old said.
“To go one-two is pretty difficult and it is a lovely way to finish the sport.”