No. 4: Lizzie Armitstead
Last year’s position: 28th
Lizzie Armitstead has taken huge strides forward this year, establishing herself as one of the best track endurance riders in the world and hinting at her huge potential on the road.
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The question is which direction Armitstead’s career will go in next. She has just turned 21 and already she’s a fixture in the world-record breaking team pursuit squad. On the track, she may be in a position to aim for two medals at London 2012. Her prowess as a bunch race rider and the strength of her sprint would make her ideal for the omnium.
Armitstead was Great Britain’s star of the show at the World Championships in Poland in March, winning a medal of each colour. The team pursuit was sealed with little fuss, there was a bronze medal in the points race, but it was in the scratch race that she showed she has steel and grit as well as grace and style in the bunch. Battered and bruised after a crash with eight laps to go, she picked herself up and finished second behind Cuba’s Yumari Gonzalez.
Given another year to progress, Armitstead could be in a position to challenge Dutch rider Marianne Vos as one of the outstanding young riders. Armitstead was the best young rider in the Giro d’Italia Donne, finishing 15th overall, she was in contention throughout the Tour de l’Ardeche, winning the final stage and taking third place overall.
Fortunately, British Cycling reversed the race commissaire’s interpretation of the rule that would have denied Armitstead the silver medal in the national road race championship in south Wales. Because she was crowned the under-23 champion it was originally deemed she was ineligible for the senior competition.
Her strength on the road with the Belgian Lotto team has not gone unnoticed. Cervélo, one of the strongest women’s teams in the world, offered her a two-year contract, where she will join up with Emma Pooley.
2009 MAJOR RESULTS
1st team pursuit, World Championships, Pruszkow, Poland
2nd scratch race, World Championships, Pruszkow, Poland
3rd points race, World Championships, Pruszkow, Poland
World Cup team pursuit and scratch race overall champion
1st scratch race, Copenhagen World Cup
1st team pursuit, Copenhagen World Cup
1st points race, Manchester World Cup
1st team pursuit, Manchester World Cup
National scratch race champion
National points race champion
National under-23 champion
National senior runner-up
3rd overall, Tour de l’Ardeche
Tour de l’Ardeche stage