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Rio Olympics: Lizzie Armitstead proud despite tough week ending on a low

By Matt McGeehan

Lizzie Armitstead expressed pride after her week of turmoil ended in Olympic disappointment at Copacabana beach.

Embattled World champion Armitstead was given a Rio reprieve over three drug test whereabouts 'failures' when the first was declared void by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

But Britain's first medallist of London 2012, with silver on The Mall behind Marianne Vos, could only finish fifth in the 137km road race as Holland's Anna van der Breggen won a dramatic gold.

Armitstead said: "I can't feel sorry for myself. This is sport and that's what it's about.

"You open yourself up for judgment. I never gave up and for that I can be proud of myself.

"I've lost quite a lot of sleep and it's been a hard time, but it's not an excuse. Once I've got a number on my back I'm a totally different person and I'm focused and it didn't enter my mind once in the race. I was totally focused on what I do best.

"It's a deserving Olympic champion for sure."

Holland's Annemiek van Vleuten led with less than 11km to go, but crashed dramatically on the descent which had ended men's road race leader Vincenzo Nibali's chances 24 hours earlier.

Initial reports on Twitter from the Dutch Cycling Federation said Van Vleuten was "okay".

The crash allowed Mara Abbott of the United States to take the lead, with Sweden's Emma Johansson, Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy and Van der Breggen Holland in pursuit.

Abbott had an advantage of almost 40 seconds as the descent flattened out, but was caught in the final 200m and denied a medal.

Van der Breggen took gold, Johnsson silver and Longo Borghini bronze.

Armitstead added: "It wasn't entirely unexpected. I knew I was going to need a miracle to come away with the gold medal on this course.

"I'm really happy with the tactic that I had and the effort that I made. I came up short on the climb. That's what I've been working hard on, but that's sport."

Questions remain over the no-shows, but Armitstead was unable to fan the flames of controversy by winning a medal.

She added: "I have to come to terms with it. I can't pick up the phone to everybody that doubts me and explain myself.

"The only thing that I can do - and the only thing that I've always done - is to ride my bike fast and get my head down and control the things that I can control."

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