Lizzie Armitstead defied a puncture to finish fourth behind new leader Marianne Vos on stage three of the Friends Life Women’s Tour of Britain.

World and Olympic champion Vos headed the sprint to the finish line in Clacton-on-Sea but Armitstead was awarded the same time and remains fifth overall, 18 seconds behind her Dutch rival.

The Otley rider won the first intermediate sprint of the stage and her Boels-Dolmans team later revealed that she contested the final sprint with a puncture.

Vos took the race leader’s yellow jersey from stage two winner Rossella Ratto, who dropped to nine seconds behind in third, with Emma Johannson – who won stage one and was second today – a second better off.

Double Olympic track champion Laura Trott crashed heavily and had to go to hospital for precautionary scans but remained determined to continue in the race, which resumes in her home town of Cheshunt tomorrow.

The event finishes in Bury St Edmunds on Sunday.