Bourton's cycling ace races to national championship win
SHARON LAWS, who missed out on selection in Team GB’s four-strong women’s road race cycling team at the Olympics, has won the National Championship for the first time.
In a ride of typical guts and determination, Laws put in a surprise attack from the back of the small leading group with 30km remaining of the 107-kilometre course around Ampleforth in North Yorkshire on Sunday and never saw another challenge.
She came home more than a minute clear of her AA Drink-Leontien.nl team-mates Lizzie Armitstead and Emma Pooley – two girls who did make the London 2012 team. Of the other two members of the Games quartet, Beijing gold medallist Nicole Cooke was back in sixth, while 22-year-old Lucy Martin, who is thought to have kept Laws out of the squad, failed to finish.
Katie Colclough, the other girl on the Olympic short list who was snubbed by the selectors, won the U23 race at the championships.
“I wasn’t expecting that result,” said Laws, who is from Bourton-on-the Water.
“I killed myself going for it so far from home and I was shattered at the finish.
“I could not believe the support I received while up in Yorkshire.”
The decision to cast Laws aside has baffled the cycling community.
No one disputes the choice of Armitstead and Pooley, while it was always going to be difficult to leave out reigning Olympic champion Cooke, despite her apparent lack of current form.
However, posters on the popular cycling website Podium Café have been almost unanimous in their condemnation of Team GB’s decision to favour Martin.
Before Laws’ national title win, even gold medal favourite Marianne Vos, from the Netherlands tweeted: “Strange, Sharon has raced so strong. I'm totally bemused why British Cycling left Sharon Laws off the Olympics.”
The 37-year-old Laws, whose ability to attack endlessly makes her the ultimate team rider, has been in the form of her life recently, the national championship win following a series of high class displays in the Czech Republic, Spain and Italy.
But she remains devastated by missing out on her home Olympics and is now contemplating retirement at the end of the season.
“I can only think the selectors are expecting a bunch finish at the Games,” she said.
“Lucy would be the better rider in that specific role, but I don’t think that is how the race is going to pan out.
“If this had come two months ago I could have accepted it, but having worked so hard and produced such good results recently, it has come as a big blow.
“At least I get to wear the national champion’s jersey for the rest of the season. Hopefully, it might even be ready for this week’s Giro Donne, which is women cycling’s equivalent of the Tour de France.”
Sharon used to travel the world working on environmental projects before giving herself over to professional cycling full time and has already had offers to return to her former line of work.
“It is not the right time to decide on my future now,” she said. “But I can’t really afford to carry on cycling and in many ways my previous career was more fulfilling.
“I did the best I could do, I got the results, and I feel I should be going to the Olympics.
“When the Games are on I will take a holiday, head up a mountain and get as far away from a TV screen as I possibly can.”