• It too a narrow sprint finish to decide the winner of the women's Tour of Flanders (Velofocus)Source: Velofocus
Road world champion Elizabeth Armitstead won the 142.1km women's Tour of Flanders in a photo finish in Oudenaarde.
By
Cycling Central

4 Apr 2016 - 12:25 AM  UPDATED 4 Apr 2016 - 8:37 AM

The Boels Dolman's rider finished just ahead of Emma Johansson (Wiggle High5) after the pair had established a lead of a chase group and the rest of the peloton.

Armitstead's team-mate Chantal Blaak finished third after winning the bunch sprint.

“I knew in my gut that I had won because I knew my momentum took me over the top of her,” Armitstead said. "I knew for certain when she congratulated me." 

In the first half of the race, none of the attempted attacks stuck. But the peloton was shattered over the Kanarieberg, and Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) further forced a selection driving it up the Kruisberg. With just 20km to go, a smaller selection faced the Oude Kwaremont. 

That group split after Johansson mounted two attacks - one just over the top of the Kwaremont, the other, just past it. Only Armitstead could respond effectively.

The pair worked together to pull away from the chasers until they held a 10 second lead with only one kilometre to the finish.

“It was a poker game in the end,” Armitstead said.

“I didn’t have any radio, so I didn’t know what was happening. I needed her to open the sprint before me, and she did. At that point, it’s not about who is fastest, it’s who is freshest. I was tired, and you could see that in my sprint. It was a race all the way to the line.”  

They then jockeyed for position with Johansson the protagonist, but Armitstead hung tough and made the pass with only a handful of metres remaining.

“I’m delighted but it’s also a big relief,” she said.

“I’ve got that win, that career goal done, and now it’s all about shifting focus. It’s a good way to start putting the spring behind me and thinking about Rio.” 

 

It is Armitstead's fourth win in the rainbow jersey, Boels-Dolmans' eighth. She leads the Women's WorldTour series overall with team-mate Chantal Blaak second.