Lizzie Armitstead confirmed to Cycling Weekly on Wednesday that she will ride the British national championships in Lincoln this weekend. The 26-year-old crashed last week immediately after winning stage one of the Aviva Women’s Tour, but has recovered sufficiently to take part.
Commonwealth champion Armitstead crashed into the finish line photographers last week whilst celebrating her victory in the Suffolk town of Aldeburgh, the consequent injuries were at first thought to be serious.
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The cause of the crash is still not clear, and Armitstead herself remains unsure, telling Cycling Weekly: “I remember winning and and celebrating, then either something in the road or a gust of wind took my front wheel to the left. I suppose anyone riding deep sections will know what that feels like. I would have been able to save it, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to realign myself away from the photographers.
“I looked up and thought ‘oh no!’ I remember going straight into a photographer and immediately thinking ‘I hope I haven’t killed him.’ I was so worried about him, he was kneeling down at wheel height and I hit him at some speed.
“It’s a strange one,” she continued, “You go from the elation of winning to the shock of being on the floor. Those moments are pretty hazy, to be honest. I just remember being in severe pain in my left leg, that was the worst thing. Then I remember being very confused and not really knowing what was going on. I hit my head quite hard and [my helmet] was pretty broken.
“I was thinking, ‘that’s this season over but I can be alright for Rio,’ which is ridiculous, but I really thought I’d damaged my leg properly.”
In the end, Armitstead’s injuries amounted to a bang to the head, a severe dead leg, a sprained wrist and general bruising.
“Touch wood, I’ve never broken a bone, I seem to be able to crash well,” she said. “Unfortunately it’s not as big a bruise as I would have liked really, I don’t bruise that easily! I felt relieved, embarrassed disappointed that I couldn’t continue, and really groggy, but they’d given me plenty of laughing gas.”
It was that dose of laughing gas which caused her to ask Danny Stam, her sports director if she could continue the Tour, “I was definitely under no illusion that I could start.”
Armitstead, who returned home to Monaco the day after the incident, admits her preparation for Sunday’s nationals been affected by the aftermath.
“It was better than I might have expected,” said Armitstead. “I’ve done some hard training but I can definitely tell I’m not 100 per cent, but that’s just everything piled in together; the adrenaline, the ups an downs of how you feel after a crash. All those things make you feel tired. I think by Sunday the form’s good enough to be able to do something, I suppose it’s just rest, that’s all I can do.”
The 107 kilometre course for the nationals is based on that of the historic Lincoln Grand Prix, its finish in the city centre at the top of the Michaelgate climb. Though short, the climb is cobbled and steep and will be ridden four times by the women.
Armitstead, who was national champion in both 2011 and 2013, does not know the route, but has heard about it and will be studying it out on YouTube before the race. The route should suit her skills, though she will not have the support of a team.
Yorkshire-born Armitstead has been in top form throughout the season so far, with seven wins so far. These include World Cup races in Italy and the USA, putting her in top place in the standings of the competition she won last year.
The national championships will be streamed live on the British Cycling YouTube channel, with the races live on EuroSport from 11.30am on Sunday. There will also be highlights packages both on line and on Eurosport and ITV4.
Video: Armitstead to target world championships success