Armitstead absence is opportunity for Pooley

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Emma Pooley believes Olympic champion Marianne Vos will be the woman to beat in today’s World Championships road race.

The Dutchwoman won the Olympic title in July, out-foxing Otley’s Lizzie Armitstead in the sprint up The Mall after fine work from Pooley earlier in the day, and will be the favourite for the 129-kilometre road race on her home roads in Limburg, Holland.

Armitstead, 23, is absent due to illness, meaning Pooley could be given the opportunity to lead the British team.

To win on an undulating course, Pooley knows she will have to beat the dominant Vos, who is likely to be a marked woman.

The 29-year-old Briton said: “There’s a lot of climbing in it, but I don’t think it’s got my name all over it. It’s got Vos’s name all over it, but it’s another opportunity and I’ll give it a good crack.

“She’s going to want to win so badly. Her only weakness is her strength – she’s so, so good.”

Pooley is joined in the five-rider British team by 2008 Olympic champion Nicole Cooke, Katie Colclough, Nikki Harris and Sharon Laws, the British champion.

The loss of Armitstead, Britain’s first medallist of London 2012, deprives the British team of another tactical option.

Pooley added: “It’s a real shame for Lizzie and for us that she’s not here. She’s so strong.

“I don’t know how it would’ve been different had she been here,” she said.

“I think it would have been another card to play.”

Pooley is seeking to respond from Tuesday’s time-trial disappointment when she finished fourth.

Results, coupled with frustrations at the inequality between men’s and women’s cycling and the need to further her career, mean Pooley plans to take a break at the end of the season to complete her PhD in geotechnical engineering. She may also not compete in the 2013 season.

Cooke has struggled for form since claiming an Olympic and world double in 2008.

Great Britain’s Lucy Garner has retained her junior women’s road race title with a sprint victory in Limburg, Holland.

Garner was led out perfectly by time trial winner Elinor Barker and beat Norway’s Eline Brustad to win a second rainbow jersey.

In doing so, Garner emulated the achievement of Beijing Olympic champion Nicole Cook, who won back-to-back junior world titles in 2000 and 2001.

Garner’s triumph comes just six weeks after she was crowned European champion and the day after she turned 18.

Garner was supported by Barker, Emily Kay, Molly Weaver and Jessie Walker.