Armitstead splits Aussies in CWG women's road race
Cooke comes home fifth, ending disappointing year
Australia claimed gold in the women’s road race at the Commonwealth Games as Rochelle Gilmore imposed herself on a bunch sprint finish. Gilmore, 28, edged out Lizzie Armitstead by under a bike length, with the Englishwoman taking silver fractionally ahead of another Australian, Chloe Hosking.
Wales’ Nicole Cooke, who took bronze in this event four years ago and gold in 2002, could only manage fifth this time round. Cooke found herself without the support of team mates in the latter stages and it was Australia that got their tactics spot-on, as Gilmore was led out superbly by compatriot Megan Dunn,19.
"Today we got the big win. It was a perfect race by the team, we've been thinking about this for two years," said Gilmore. "We wanted to control the race to set up the sprint and we rode perfectly despite everyone throwing everything at us.
"I stayed out of trouble and kept drinking a lot of water, and I think that helped in the end. I'm extremely happy."
Armitstead said the result, though disappointing, bodes well for the Olympics in two years’ time. "I just felt like I let the girls down a little bit. They did a really good job today," she said.
"I waited a little bit and I hesitated, because I wanted the job to get done right until the line. I should have made the split decision to get on a wheel instead.
"They did a perfect job. But for our first attempt as a team - we've not even tried it in training - I'm really impressed and I think we can only get better. Come London 2012 we should be a forced to be reckoned with."
As for Cooke, the race comes at the end of a disappointing year in which she lost her national title to Emma Pooley and came away empty-handed from the world championships in Geelong. She admitted that in the absence of Welsh team mates at the death, she failed to take advantage of the strength of the English riders around her.
"I should have used them but I didn't and I came in fifth," she said. "I could have got my tactics better at the finish but I don't know if I'd have been able to beat the riders that got the medals, considering their quality."
Security was extremely tight around the 13.7km Delhi city centre circuit, to such an extent that spectators were virtually non-existent. On an undemanding course it was the heat and dust that see were the main issue for riders with only 38 of the 59 starters completing the 112km course.