Rio 2016: Anna Van Der Breggen win's Olympic women's road race after a sensational race

Rio 2016: Anna Van Der Breggen win's Olympic women's road race after a sensational race
A host of top class female riders will be vying for the Gold medal this afternoon / Road Cycling UK

Thank you very much for joining me this afternoon, it was a pleasure to call such a fascinating and intriguing race, I've been Michael Stokoe thanks for tuning in as Holland's Van Der Breggen takes the Olympic Gold on Copacabana beach.

Well, I need a lie down after what was a fantastic women's road race, which saw Van Der Breggen come out on top after spirited chase. But for GB riders it was another fruitless day as Armitstead rode well but couldn't bridge the gap to the front group and had to eventually settle for fifth place.

As for Armitstead it was a tough course which eventually ended up with her finishing fifth, as GB missed out once again in the road race.

Thankfully Van Vleuten is OK after that horrific looking crash, but for Van Der Breggen it must be a terrific feeling being Olympic Champion.

For Abbott it was tough luck as she was caught virtually on the line as the trio that were chasing her for the last period of the race sailed past her to take away her chance of taking home an Olympic Gold.

VAN DER BREGGEN wins - one of the pre-race favourites has won the women's Olympic road race, with Johansson second, and Borghini third - what a race.

1km to go - Abbott looks like she will be caught inside the last kilometre

1.8km - Abbott's lead is extremely slender at the moment...

3.4km - We are nearly at Copacabana beach, Armitstead is in touching distance, but whether she will latch onto the second group on the road remains to be seen. But meanwhile Abbott is having the ride of her life at the moment.

4.9km - #LizzieWatch - This is super tense stuff, there is still about six riders that are in contention for a medal as the race enters its conclusion, Armitstead is still pushing to get into that second group on the road.

6.5km - #LizzieWatch - After be seemingly out of contention, the British rider is slowly clawing her way back to the second group on the road - so Armitstead is certainly in with a shout of a medal.

8.4km - Abbott is now our new leader, after that Van Vleuten crash, and we are still waiting to see if the Dutch rider is OK, but meanwhile Armitstead's chasing group is on the verge of joining up with the group behind Abbott.

9.3km - #LizzieWatch - Armitstead is still on the descent, but I'm unsure how far behind the World Champion is currently.

1o.7km - CRASH - that was an awful crash as Van Vlueten went flying over the handlebars and lies in crumpled heap on the side of the road. That was an awful sight, hopefully Van Vlueten will be OK.

13.3km - #LizzieWatch - Rain has started, which means the descent is going to be particularly tricky, but Armitstead is closing on the second group on the road, so a medal could yet still be in contention for a medal.

14.4km - The front two are now on the descent, as Abbott looks to be losing contact with Van Vleuten, meanwhile further back Armitstead is still trying to reduce her arrears.

15.6km - Abbott and Van Vleuten are still in front, but this race is far from finished as the tricky descent is coming up, which could alter this race once again.

16.4km - #LizzieWatch - The time checks have been unreliable all day, but it looks like Armitstead is indeed closer than I originally thought, so as Chris Boardman said, 'all is to play' for Armitstead, she just has to keep pushing.

17.1km - #LizzieWatch - It seems Armitstead is still pushing, but it a time check suggests she is currently 50secs behind, it might just be insurmountable for the World Champion.

17.6km - Van Vleuten has attacked on the final part of the climb, as she drops Abbott and her compatriot Van Der Breggen, this could be a potential race winning move.

18.2km - #LizzieWatch - This has been a attritional race for Armitstead, after the early puncture it has been a solid ride, but at the moment she is behind the leading group - but there is still time, but whether she can regroup is another thing.

19.8km - Abbott has completely destroyed the field as her punishing pace at the front of the climb has shot the peloton to bits, at the moment she is joined by Van Der Breggen as they look to push home to the finish.

20.8km - #LizzieWatch - The 27-year-old is losing contact at the moment, but with the descent to come she will need a stormer of a ride to get back into contention.

21.3km  - At the front of the race it is Abbott who is controlling things, along with Van Der Breggen, this is fascinating racing as the women's light up Rio's roads.

21.6km - #LizzieWatch - Armitstead is dangling off the back of the front group at the moment, this is tense stuff from Otley's finest. 

22.5km - #LizzieWatch - The peloton has completely shot to bits as riders are strung out all down the road. As for Armitstead she is hanging with the better climbers in the front group, but it's a strong ride from World Champion at the moment, she is still in contention.

22.8km - the juncture has been made now, now we should see yet more attacks, as this race hots up...

23.2km - The gap to the lead group is now coming down, it looks as though the peloton will make contact soon, but GB's Pooley has been dropped. Armitstead still in contention.

24.5km - The current time check from the peloton to the lead group is 40secs, so the gap is coming down, but whether the peloton can bridge the gap remains to be seen.

25.3km - #LizzieWatch - The peloton is slowly closing the gap, but it doesn't seem to be quick enough, but for Armitstead something will have to happen soon, as her chance to become an Olympic Gold medallist is hanging in the balance. 

26.7km - The lead group has started to climb now, can the peloton bridge the gap?

29.2km - #LizzieWatch - As the race approaches the Vista Chinesa circuit, the 27-year-old is currently stuck in the peloton as they struggle to bring back the lead group - there is still time, but not much.

30.8km - This front group is really pushing hard now as the advantage is slowly getting up to a minute, it's becoming fascinating stuff, GB have to surely do something to alter the direction of this race.

34.4km - The front group has a lead of about half a minute at the moment, as this race is threatening to explode...

37.5km - #LizzieWatch - After what had been a fairly mundane period of the race, the peloton has split again as the race approaches the last circuit. As for Armitstead it's getting to the decisive end of race, will we see the Yorkshire lass attack soon?

39km - Worrack has split the peloton again, as she has gone up the road. But she has been followed by a group of riders which include the likes of former World Champion Vos, this will start to get interesting now as we head towards the last circuit, the Vista Chinesa.

43.6km - It's been really quiet as the race enters the last 40km, but coming up will be the most exciting part of the race, as the main contenders should come into the fore.

49.3km - The peloton is now on the coastal road back into Rio where they will tackle the Vista Chinesa circuit before the run into the finish on Copacabana beach.

52.9km - #LizzieWatch - It has been a quiet last 10 to 15 minutes for Armitstead, but she is safely in the peloton along with Pooley, but as the race goes we will see plenty more from the World Champion.

54.6km - After a brief respite, there is some movement as France' Corden  has gone on a solo attack.

59.7km - It's calmed down a bit now as the peloton is having a respite  at the moment as the women enter the last 59km.

65km - #LizzieWatch - The riders have completed the first two laps of the Grumari circuit, and on the descent the peloton has split, but Armitstead is in the front group, biding her time. 

67.7km - Kopecky is caught now, making the lead six, but the peloton is rapidly closing as the race is now all back to together.

71km - Kopecky hits the cobbles for the final time, as the chase group is closing - but further back the peloton is eating up the time, with the current time check being 28secs to the leading riders.

73.8km - #LizzieWatch - The chase group of Van Dijk, Bronzini, Worrack, and Plitcha is up the road, but as for Armitstead she is still safely tucked inside the peloton, as the race is livening up a little bit here.

74.5km - Whilst all the action is happening further down the road, it is Kopecky who leads on the road, the 20-year-old Belgium rider has ridden impressively so far, as the women's road race has really hit top gear.

76.5km - It looked like the peloton were going to come back together, but the chase group has eeked out a bigger advantage, but Pooley has attacked which has strung out the peloton.

81.6km - What an effort by GB's Pooley as she has clawed back the chase group, as the peloton comes back together again.

83.6km - #LizzieWatch - It looks as though Armitstead and GB has missed out on what is potentially a big move - but Pooley has now moved to the front as the advantage to the chase group is slowly coming down.

84.6km - Australia and in particular Katrin Garfoot, and also the American Kristin Armstrong have made their moves as they look to close the gap to the chasers. GB sit and wait in the peloton, whether that will be a mistake remains to be seen, as the chase group has at least 1min3sec ahead of the peloton.

87.7km - At the moment we have Van Dijk, Bronzini, Worrack, and Anna Plitcha chasing our lone escapee Kopecky, as the race is really beginning to take shape.

89.9km - #LizzieWatch - The Dutch who have a terrific team, have set Van Dijk up off the road, this is a move that Armitstead will have to watch now, as the race begins to thin out after that punishing climb.

91km - Kasper has been caught now as the peloton look to now catch our lone leader Kopecky.

91.7km - Kopecky is on the first descent of the Grumari circuit, as the peloton hit the climb, as Pooley goes to the front. 

93.8km - The peloton has just hit the cobbles, and at the front Nicki Harris is guiding Armitstead through the tricky terrain.

96km - Kopecky is the first to hit the cobbles, yesterday the cobbles caused plenty of problems for the men, will the same happen for the women?

97.6km - #LizzieWatch - The cobbled sectors are coming up, and there was another look of Armitstead as she hit the front of the peloton along with Pooley - it's all going accordingly to plan at the moment for GB.

99.1km - Kopecky is still out in front with Kasper behind chasing, and currently the Belgium rider has over four minutes on the main peloton as she nears the cobbled sector.

Here is a very interesting article from the Daily Mail's Oliver Holt on the Armitstead drug drama - well worth a read...

104.2km - The Germans have been lively so far in this race, and Romy Kaspar has set off up the road in pursuit of Kopecky - I feel once the race hits the Grumari circuit fireworks are going to happen.

As the pace has dropped once again - let's take a glance at Emma Johansson; she is another rider with some serious pedigree amongst the peloton. At Beijing in 2008 she won silver, and this season she has had some good results in the Tour of Flanders and Strade Bianche.

107.4km - #LizzieWatch - There was a glimpse of Armitstead at the front of the peloton just a moment, she looks calm and composed at the moment, so that is a great sign for onlooking GB supporters.

108.8km - The wind is currently causing problems in the peloton, and currently Germany, and in particular Trixi Worrack and Lisa Brennauer are trying to form some echelons - but the pace has certainly shot up.

111.7km - The last time check we got of Kopecky was that she was 1min32s in front of the peloton as she approaches the Grumari circuit.

112.5km - #LizzieWatch - It's all quiet on the Armitstead front... after a bad start due to a mechanical, but at the moment the World Champion is safely tucked into the peloton out of harms way.

115.4km - The first meaningful attack of the day has happened, as Belgium's Lotte Kopecky has let rip to try her luck of a extremely unlikely breakaway win.

Let's have another in-depth look at some more riders involved; France only have two riders in action and that is Audrey Corden of Wiggle High5 and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot who at one time held the World titles of the Road, cyclo-cross and mountain biking simultaneously, so the 24-year-old French women will definetely be a threat going forward in this race.

118.6km - The race has calmed down a little bit at the moment, there are a mixture of nations on the front, USA are there, as is Poland, as the peloton is en-route to the Grumari circuit.

121.1km - #LizzieWatch - It certainly hasn't gone to plan, the start of this road race for Armitstead, she is currently chasing the peloton after an earlier mechanical problem - it's not a good sign - but there is plenty more racing left to do.

121.8km - The race is really starting to string out now, as Finland's Lotto Lepisto and Van Dijk go on the attack.

124.3km - Armitstead is trying to get back onto the peloton after a puncture, but it is certainly not an ideal start for the World Champion.

125.4km - #LizzieWatch - It looks as though Armitstead has pulled up for a bike change, as Emma Pooley stretches her legs, which caused a momentarily split in the peloton - still no sign of Armitstead rejoining the peloton as of yet.

Let's have another look at some of the potential winners, as we now the Dutch have bought an extremely strong team, we know about Van Der Breggen and Vos; but in Ellen Van Dijk and Annemiek Van Vleuten they have some of the best support rider in the peloton today, so it will be interesting to how they get on.

128.7km - The peloton is currently on the coastal road, heading to the Grumari circuit where they will do two laps, where the riders will face cobbles and some tough climbs.

Another rider who has gone through the build-up without much attention is the 21-year-old Polish rider Katarzyna Niewiadoma, who despite her young age has shown what she is all about this season, so you certainly cannot write her off, when the riders reach the latter part of the race. 

131.9km - #LizzieWatch - It has been a quiet start for GB's main medal hope, the World Champion is currently near the front of the peloton making sure she keeps herself out of trouble. 

One nation we haven't mentioned so far is the Italian's, they have a very strong team with the likes of Giorgia Bronzini and Elisa Longo Borghini; and if goes to plan, the Italian's could well spring a surprise over in Rio today.

135.2km - I said it would be attacks straight from the gun and albeit it was a very brief one, it was an indication of what you can expect this afternoon.

Here we go, the Olympic women's road race is now UNDERWAY - strapped yourselves in guys, this should be an absolute belter!

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm super excited for this race, plenty of scenario's could play out, but let's hope it will be a positive one for GB - here are my predictions: 1. Armitstead, 2. Guarnier, 3. Van Der Breggen....

We are only about 10 minutes away from the start of the Olympic women's road race now, it's a chance for GB's Armitstead to try and silence some of her critics with what would be such a huge victory.

And in her recent column for the Independent, former Olympic medallist Victoria Pendleton had this to say on the matter: "It is really sad but the truth is she has only herself to blame. You have to take responsibility for missed test - that is part and parcel of being an elite athlete."

Whether Armitstead likes it or not, questions have and will be asked of her; throughout this episode the World Champion has maintained her stance, saying: "I'm absolutely devastated because people are going to judge me and my family, I will never cheat in any walk of life," said Armitstead earlier this week.

But after going to Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) Armitstead's first missed test was quashed as the UK anti-doping officer didn't do enough to locate the athlete. And then Armitstead admitted that the second missed test was because of a admin, and then finally the third was because of a family emergency in which Armitstead did not disclose to the media.

Shall we turn our attentions to Armitstead? I think so. The World Champion has received plenty of media interest this past week, most notably because of the news hitting the headlines stating that the 27-year-old missed three anti-doping tests in the space of 12 months.

There are plenty of potential winners in the field today; there is probably about five of six riders that could take glory, the likes Armitstead, Van Der Breggen, and Vos all start as hot favourites. But outside that you cannot look past Mara Abbott and Megan Guarnier of the US - it is sure to be a fascinating race this afternoon.

Talking of the course; let's have a look at what many have called a 'brutal' and 'savage' course. Yesterday the men rode 237km, but the women will do 136.9km and take in two laps of the Grumari circuit, and then one lap of the Vista Chinesa circuit and then will finish up along the Copacabana beach.

Now, enough of the men, let's concentrate on what is coming up, and what viewers can expect in what should be a hugely exciting race along the brutal Rio course.

But for the GB hopefuls it turned out to be a disappointing day as Geraint Thomas, who was certainly in contention for a medal crashed inside the last 10km on a hair-raising descent and saw his chance of Olympic glory disappear down the road - but overall from a tactics standpoint it was perfectly set-up for Thomas, but it was just a shame that the Welshman couldn't get the job done.

Yesterday the men kicked off the Cycling event in what was a superb road race which saw Greg Van Avermaet claim one of the biggest win of his career after beating Jakob Fuglsang and Rafal Majka in a sprint to line.

Welcome again to this afternoon's coverage of the Women's Olympic Road Race, I'm Michael Stokoe and I will be with you throughout the afternoon and early evening as Lizzie Armitstead looks to put behind a week full of questions and hopefully win Olympic Gold to add to her impressive palmares.

But whatever happens it is sure to be another cracking race, with plenty of excitement guaranteed. But hopefully for GB supporters it will be another tense day watching as Armitstead and company look to outdo the men.

One name that does stand out is Megan Guarnier the American rider. A teammate of Armitstead, Gaurnier has had a marvellous season to date, winning some huge races such as the Giro, and also the Tour of California, as well as the US National Road race – so Guarnier could well be a solid outside contender for at least a medal.

Outside of those top three, there are plenty of others that could spring a surprise, just like Van Avermaet did yesterday. 

Vos has some serious pedigree in the sport, and before her time off the bike she was pretty much untouchable. As mentioned before, this season has, in a way been another feeling in process for her. But she recently won the third and fifth stages of the Thuringen Rundfahrt Der Frauen so her bid for victory in Rio today might have come at the right time.

Another rider who might be up there in the final reckoning is former World Champion and compatriot of Der Breggen, Vos. The 29-year-old Vos has come back to the sport after a year long hiatus; and after feeling her way into this season, her form might just be peaking at the crucial time.

But women’s cycling is not just all about Armitstead. There are other top riders that are in contention for victory today; take Der Breggen for example, the Dutch rider is a classy rider, one who can climb and also sprint and after winning La Fleche Wallonne Feminine and finishing third overall in the Giro D’Italia Feminine earlier this season she comes into the race with plenty of confidence.

Despite what has happened this week, Armitstead should go into the race with confidence. She has dominated this year in the Women’s WorldTour winning the Tour of Flanders, Aviva Tour of Britain, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche, and finally Trofeo Alfredo Binda, and if everything clicks into gear tomorrow, she could add a Gold medal to her impressive palmares, despite the negative headlines that have surrounded her this week.

But after releasing a statement, the Rainbow Jersey holder Armitstead said the second missed test was an admin error, and the final one was because of a private family emergency – but what could be one of the best days of her career tomorrow will certainly be dominated by the events of the past week.

It was certainly a shock to the cycling world when the news broke that Armitstead had been suspended prior to the Games; and it was only a court ruling which allowed her to compete, after it had been deemed that her first missed test was the fault of the UK anti-doping officer.

And speaking of the 27-year-old World Champion, it certainly hasn’t been ideal preparation as the news of her missed tests has dominated the build-up to the race, and now for the standard bearer of women cycling, questions have, and will be asked about how she managed to miss three anti-doping tests.

Like the men’s race there will be plenty of variables that could decide the outcome of the medals, but for Team GB they have a team capable of giving Armitstead the best possible chance of taking home what would be a controversial Gold medal in many people’s eyes.

For the majority of the women’s peloton, the Olympic Games is the pinnacle of their careers so tomorrow will be a feisty affair, but what will be telling is that unlike professional races the ability to be able to control race will be virtually impossible as there are only teams of three riders. So in theory it will be every woman for themselves tomorrow afternoon.

And talking of the course, let’s give you the rundown of the 136.9km course which boasts two punishing circuits with climbs that exceed 10% in gradients; the men done the first circuit, the Grumari circuit four times and then the Vista Chinesa circuit three times yesterday. But the women will tackle the Grumari circuit twice and then move onto the Vista Chinesa circuit to tackle that once – but all in all it will be one punishing day in the saddle for the women.

But today is the turn of the women as they look to write themselves into the history books, and add an Olympic medal to one of their palmares. And after the thrills and spills of the men’s race yesterday you should expect more of the same, as even though the course is shorter it should be another fascinating race on what is a particularly savage course.

Yesterday we saw Belgium’s Greg Van Avermaet win a sensational men’s road race after a string of crashes took Vincenzo Nibali, Sergio Henao, and Geraint Thomas out of the equation – but it was the Belgium rider who held his nerve and sprinted away from Jakob Fuglsang and Rafal Majka in the closing metres to claim his biggest win of his career to date.

Welcome to this live commentary of the Women’s Olympic Road Race, I’m Michael Stokoe and I will be with you throughout the afternoon as the likes of Lizzie Armitstead, Anna Van Der Breggen and Marianne Vos all compete for Olympic Gold.