United States (AFP) - British star Lizzie Armitstead took her greatest career triumph on Saturday (Sept 26), capturing the women's road race at the World Road Cycling Championships, and has her eyes on Rio Olympic gold next.
The 26-year-old Englishwoman outsprinted Dutch rival Anna Van der Breggen over the final 100 meters to win the 129.8km event by half a bike length after 3hrs 23mins 56 secs.
After tearfully crossing the finish line, she called the dramatic victory the greatest of her career.
"It's very surreal. I'm still in shock," Armitstead said. "Everything went perfectly."
Armitstead won five medals at the world track championships in 2009 and 2010 before turning to the road events, where she won the 2014 Commonwealth Games and took silver at the 2012 Olympics, the first medal won by a Briton at the London Games.
She has also won the past two World Cup crowns, but she will not be pushing for a third, her focus squarely upon the Olympics.
"It would be unrealistic to target (that), especially in an Olympic year. It won't be a goal," she said.
"I'm goal oriented. If you have won something once, that's enough. To me, this is a massive take in my career." In part, it came because Armitstead developed the plan of attack over a course that offered cobblestone climbs, a rise before the finish line and a host of top rivals.
"It was attack and sprint," Armitstead said. "It raised some eyebrows when I said I thought that was the best way to attack.
"I believed in myself. I got it right today." Dutch star Marianne Vos, the reigning Olympic champion and a three-time world champion, has been sidelined by injuries since June, but Armitstead dismissed any notion her victory was less special with Vos absent.
"No disrespect to Marianne Vos, she's the greatest rider of our time, it wasn't just about Marianne Vos being away today," she said.
"The rest of women's cycling has made some incredible strides." Long before she won, Armitstead feared the race was lost after nine riders broke away with 25km remaining.
"I was getting quite frustrated by the racing, wondering when it would start," she said. "That was because I had good legs. The course was quite demanding.
"With about a lap to go I thought, 'This could be over.' I couldn't charge on my own. Until we caught them, I thought, 'It's over.'" Not until after the penultimate climb did the peloton catch the breakaway leaders, setting up a daunting climb and sprint to the finish.
"The last 5km was quite demanding and it was all about positioning," said Armitstead, who went to the right and surged into the lead awaiting a charge.
"I was waiting for the rush of the sprint to come. Anna came and that was it. It was all about the line. The finish line came quicker than I expected."