World champion Lizzie Armitstead withdraws from the National Championships road race in Stockton-on-Tees with a reported illness

Lizzie Armitstead will not defend her British National Championships road race title in Stockton-on-Tees after withdrawing from the event.

The 27-year-old, who triumphed at the Aviva Women’s Tour last Sunday, was not present at the start line, with her Boels-Dolmans team confirming her withdrawal by tweeting that Nikki Harris was their only representative in the race.

Cycling Weekly understands that Armitstead pulled out of the race on Friday due to an illness picked up at the Women’s Tour.

Armitstead has won the three times before, in 2011, 2013 and 2015, with a lone attack up the cobbled Michaelgate climb last year clinching the title.

She becomes the latest high profile rider to withdraw from the National Championships road races this weekend, with Team Sky trio Ben Swift, Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard already pulling out.

Cycling Weekly also understands that organisers weren’t expecting 2013 champion Mark Cavendish to race due to illness, but the Manxman was present on Sunday to sign on

Armitstead is focusing her training on her main season’s goal of winning gold at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this August. She was named in the Team GB squad for the Games this week, alongside Harris and Emma Pooley.

Dani King, who felt aggrieved at not being selected for the Olympics, is among the favourites to win the National Championships crown in Armitstead’s absence.