Great Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead finished 19th in the elite women’s race at the UCI Road World Championships as Marianne Vos secured back-to-back titles.
Armitstead, 24, came home five minutes and 28 seconds down on the Netherlands’ Vos in Florence as Sweden’s Emma Johansson (Sweden) took silver and Rossella Ratto (Italy) bronze.
A brutal 140-kilometre race saw only 46 of the 136 riders finish with the rest of Great Britain’s four-person team, Nikki Harris, first year senior Lucy Garner and Katie Colclough, all falling victim to the punishing final circuit.
“It was just so hard, I will look back a little disappointed,” Armitstead said after the race. “The preparation I had and the people I was still with in that group, it’s not too bad.
“If you were somebody that was going to attack you just had no chance to do it early because the course did for us, it was just so difficult. It was only really recovery on this home straight.
Asked if she could have changed anything about her race, the British champion added: “Sometimes it’s in your head and you’re thinking ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do this’ but it was literally all physical, I just blew up.”
Armitstead had spent the majority of the day in the peloton but fell back on the second last lap.
Earlier, the American team upped the pace on the initial lap of the 16-kilometre circuit after a flat opening 40-kilometre ride into Florence.
Garner, just 19, was among those dropped on the first 4.3-kilometre climb to Fiesole as a lead group formed on the back of furious tempo being set, which continued to reduce the field.
By the fourth of five laps, American Evie Stevens, Italians Tatiana Guderzo, Ratto and Elisa Longo Borghini, Dutch riders Vos and Anna van der Breggen, Sweden’s Johansson and Australian Tiffany Cromwell were ahead in a lead group with Armitstead further back.
London Olympic gold medallist Vos then launched the winning attack on the final ascent of Via Salviati at five-kilometres to the finish, holding on for another rainbow jersey.
Johansson and Ratto gave chase but were forced to settle for silver and broze respectively, as Vos took a third elite women's world road title.