Update: Lizzie Armitstead withdraws from Aviva Women’s Tour after finish-line crash after winning stage one in Aldeburgh
- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown
Lizzie Armitstead last night withdrew from the Aviva Women’s Tour after the prestigious event was marred in Suffolk yesterday when the cycling champion suffered a nasty collision with photographers moments after winning the first stage.
Armitstead had just crossed the finishing line in Aldeburgh when she veered to the left and crashed into a number of photographers stationed at the roadside.
The 26-year-old Boels Dolmans rider was violently unseated and received medical treatment on site before being taken by ambulance to hospital.
Several hours later Armitstead, a gold medal winner in last year’s Commonwealth Games road race and a silver medallist at London 2012, tweeted to confirm she had escaped serious injury but would not be on the start line for stage two in Braintree this morning.
She had been a leading contender to win the five-stage Women’s Tour with defending champion and former three-time road world champion Marianne Vos, of the Netherlands, and current road world champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot, of France, both sidelined through injury.
Instead, Armitstead is hoping to be back to full fitness for next month’s national road championships
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She said on Twitter last night: “I remember winning with the help of my team-mates and then not much else, but I am ok, nothing broken just very sore.
“Thank you for all your kind messages and to the NHS staff who took care of me so well. I won’t start tomorrow in the hope of recovering properly for the Nationals.”
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It came about an hour after the official Twitter account for the Aviva Women’s Tour tweeted: “For everyone asking about Lizzie Armitstead, she was discharged and walked out of hospital and is back with her team at the hotel.”
In the aftermath of the crash yesterday afternoon, an official statement from the Women’s Tour offered some details around the incident, which led to other riders crashing in the aftermath.
The statement said: “After crossing the line with her arms in the air stage winner Lizzie Armitstead appeared to lose control and veer left, clipping photographers positioned beyond the finish line.
“Lizzie was immediately attended to by race medical staff at the finish line who dealt with the incident before being taken to hospital.
“Everyone from the Aviva Women’s Tour wishes Lizzie all the best for a speedy recovery.”
Armitstead was reportedly conscious while paramedics applied a neck brace and attached a drip. She was taken to hospital around 40 minutes after tumbling to the ground.
According to other reports, race director Mick Bennett was also involved in the collision. A spokesman for the Aviva Women’s Tour would not, however, be drawn on whether Mr Bennett was involved in the crash.
An air ambulance landed close to the scene but was not used to convey Armitstead to hospital.
Armitstead officially won stage one in a time of two hours 39 minutes and 53 seconds. German Lisa Brennauer, representing Velocio-SRAM claimed second place and Orica-AIS rider Emma Johansson, of Sweden, crossed the finishing line in third position.
Around half-way during the race, a level crossing in the Suffolk countryside held up the peloton as a train passed, thought to be in Melton.
As a result of the fall, the winner presentations were temporarily postponed, but with Armitstead needing further medical treatment, it was decided to go ahead in her absence.
Her Boels-Dolman teammates accepted her winning jerseys on her behalf – Armitstead won the Aviva Yellow Jersey for being the stage one winner, the blue and white Chain Reaction Jersey for being the top points scorer and the Premier Inn Purple Jersey for being the best British rider of the stage.
Team-mate Romy Kasper said: “We just wish her the very best and hope that she is OK.”
She said that accepting the awards on her team mates’ behalf was extremely difficult, but added: “We do it for her, to support her and we hope that she is OK.”
Meanwhile, the race was overall hailed as a success. It began where the inaugural event last year finished – in Bury St Edmunds at 11am yesterday.
The stellar field featured 94 cyclists, including double Olympic track champion Laura Trott and 11-time Paralympic champion Dame Sarah Storey, who finished in 18th position and 89th position respectively.
Thousands of people lined the streets to provide loud and encouraging support to the world-class line-up of 16 teams taking on the 112.6 kilometres (68.5 miles) first stage of the Women’s Tour.
They rode mainly through Suffolk’s countryside and narrow roads, taking in Stowmarket, Ipswich, Woodbridge and Saxmundham before the final sprint to the finish at Aldeburgh along the coast south from Thorpeness.
A Suffolk Sport spokesman said: “An event of this nature puts women’s sport firmly in the spotlight and demonstrates the power of elite competition to inspire others to get involved.
“Female cycling participation rates are lower than their male counterparts and by hosting an event showcasing the pinnacle of women’s cycling participation, Suffolk is leading the way in terms of raising the profile and inspiring others to get on their bikes.
“If you feel the urge to dust off your bike and take to the road, why not try one of Cycle Suffolk’s ‘Women on Wheels’ events taking place across the county this year? With gentle rides starting from five miles, there’s a distance for everyone.”
Meanwhile, TJ Haworth-Culf, cabinet member with responsibility for customers, community and leisure at Suffolk Coastal, said: “Overall, it was a real success. I would like to thank everyone involved in running this prestigious international cycling event for their hard work and support, including the organisers, volunteers and people who took part in the events.
“Also, a big thank you to the thousands of people who came out and supported the Women’s Tour through Suffolk Coastal. I am very proud of Aldeburgh Business Association and all the schools which took part, especially Aldeburgh Primary School which won the overall school races.
“However, I was really sorry to hear that Lizzie Armitstead was involved in an accident shortly after crossing the finishing line.
“Obviously, looking after Lizzie and the others involved in the crash was our priority immediately after the accident, which did create some disruption for the local people and spectators.
“Although there was some unavoidable inconvenience, I really want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding while the emergency services dealt with the situation. I would also like to wish Lizzie a speedy recovery and hopefully she will soon back to her winning ways.”
But the chairman of the Aldeburgh Business Association, Robert Mabey, said that every effort needed to be taken to avoid a similar incident happening at a later stage of the race.
“It was a fantastic day for the town, the kids had a brilliant time and it was a real shame for all that the incident happened,” he said. “Hopefully a lesson can be learnt from this so that it doesn’t mar another town’s day.
“It’s a huge shame for Lizzie and the other riders who fell. It did put a dampener on the day and she was robbed of her glory.”