Otley’s Lizzie Armitstead yesterday won the British Championships road race for a third time with a breakaway victory in Lincoln.
The Commonwealth Games champion and Olympic silver medallist was pipped to victory by Laura Trott 12 months ago in Abergavenny, but showed her intent by attacking on the penultimate ascent of Michaelgate.
Pete Kennaugh successfully retained his men’s British Championships road race title after fighting off the challenge of fellow Manxman Mark Cavendish.
The 26-year-old Armitstead was a doubt to start in Lincoln following her Aviva Women’s Tour ending crash 10 days’ ago, but prevailed over the 103.5-kilometres course to celebrate victory in front of Lincoln Cathedral.
Mountain bike specialist Alice Barnes was second, with two-time Olympic track champion Trott third.
“It means I get to be proud of being British in all the races that I do,” Armistead said of being able to wear the British champion’s jersey for another year following her wins in 2011 and 2013.
“It means a lot – it means new kit for a start. I go to the Giro on Friday so it will be a quick turnaound for them.
“I had some good people around me before the start who told me to believe in myself and I listened. It was a difficult race. The longer the ace went on the better I started to feel.
“The nationals is always such a hard race to control. I had it stacked against me today with some strong girls all working against me so I’m just pleased to pull it off.”
Trott added: “Lizzie was in a league of her own – she attacked and that was it. Literally nobody could follow. She was just unbelievable – she literally just floated up the hill and just left the rest of us for dead.”
Cavendish, the 2013 winner in Glasgow, was one of the key protagonists for the 200.5-kilometres men’s race, which featured nine ascents of the steep Michaelgate climb to the finish between Lincoln Cathedral and the castle.
On paper the uphill finish and having three Team Sky riders in competition counted against Cavendish, the 25-times Tour de France stage winner who proved he is far more than a sprinter.
But he broke away with Kennaugh, only for the defending champion to claim victory on the final climb. Ian Stannard was third ahead of Luke Rowe.
Kennaugh is the first rider to successfully defend the British men’s title since Roger Hammond in 2003 and 2004.
The 26-year-old, who is hoping to be named in the Team Sky squad for the Tour which is to be announced today, said: “I think that’s got to be one of the hardest races of my career.
“From three kilometres in, when we split it in the crosswinds, it was on all day, you were constantly on the pedals without realising. I’m over the moon just to stay in white with my white bike and all my white accessories. It means a lot to me.”
Kennaugh paid tribute to Cavendish. “I think it goes to show he’s not all about being a sprinter and getting dropped off at 200 metres to go,” he added. “He’s as strong as anybody else so hats off to Cav and I’m sure he’ll have the jersey again another year.”
Cavendish said: “I’m super happy, happy with my form, happy with a medal here.”
Some of the country’s top road racers came to Yorkshire on Sunday as Thornton hosted the Nige Moore Memorial Road Race near Bradford.
The 42-mile race, which used the Rock and Heifer pub as headquarters, took in 20 laps of a circuit and was won by 35-year-old Welsh visitor Marc Colclough (NFTO Race Club).
After a number of early attacks were reeled back in during the first half of the race, Colclough managed to get away from the bunch and stayed out on his own for the remainder of the contest, building up a lead of around a minute.
Hexham teenager Fergus Robinson, riding for Allen Valley Velo, crossed the line second and was also comfortable with a considerable distance behind him. Skipton’s Edward Evans took third place on the podium, the 20-year-old Jackpot Racing man was the quickest in a bunch sprint, managing to steal ahead of Petuaria RT’s Gregory Saunderson.
In time trialling, Barnsley Road Club’s Anthony Bromley won the Otley CC 50-mile event staged near Dishforth in North Yorkshire yesterday.
He clocked 1:45:01 to win by just over a minute from Team Swift veteran Simon Beldon, with Blaine Metcalfe (Team Swift) third, 1-47 behind Bromley.
Harrogate Nova CC’s Eleanor Haresign was the fastest female, covering the course in 2:00:43, over two minutes ahead of her nearest rival, Karen Taylor (East Bradford CC).