Lizzie Armitstead

Not only did Lizzie Armitstead retain her UCI World Cup title in 2015, she also fulfilled a lifelong ambition of winning the World Championships.

In 2016, Armitstead hopes to avenge her defeat in the London 2012 road race by taking her first Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro.

The Otley-born rider insists she won’t be favourite for the race on the hilly Brazilian parcours, but Armitstead will back herself to be in with a shot of taking the gold.

Marianne Vos

Injuries forced the dominating Dutch rider out of racing in 2015, but Marianne Vos hopes to be back at full strength for the new season.

The 28-year-old won her first road world title way back in 2006 and has dominated the sport ever since. But the gap between Vos and her rivals is narrower than ever, with some great battles expected in 2016.

Anna van der Breggen

Anna van der Breggen was dominant for Rabo-Liv in Vos’s absence in 2015, putting in strong performances in both one-day racing and stage racing.

She finished second to Armitstead in both the World Cup and the World Championships and showed her strength in the mountains by taking the overall win at the women’s Giro d’Italia.

One of her more impressive wins of the year came in Paris, as she battled cobbles and torrential rain to solo her way to winning La Course, on the final day of the men’s Tour de France.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot

Former world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot was restricted to just 21 days racing last season due to sciatica and will hope her recovery from a broken leg, suffered in November, goes smoothly.

The French rider couldn’t match her formidable record of 2014, but a national championship win and a stage victory at the Giro d’Italia aren’t bad consolations.

And don’t forget, Ferrand-Prevot also won world championships in both cyclo-cross and mountain biking at the start of the year to prove her versatility.

Lisa Brennauer

Lisa Brennauer was one of the queens of stage racing in 2015, winning three overall titles, including the Aviva Women’s Tour in the UK.

Brennauer also dominated the time trials last season, winning individual races and two team time trials, as well as the coming third in the World Championships.

Velocio may have pulled their sponsorship from Brennauer’s team, but Canyon bikes have stepped in to support SRAM in their backing of the team, meaning the German rider will be back competing with the best cyclists in the world.