Last year Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead cut a frustrated figure when a tactical stalemate saw her miss out on a rainbow jersey at the World Championship – and she’s determined not to see history repeat itself this summer.
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Fresh from winning both the World Cup and Commonwealth Games road race titles, Armitstead went into September’s worlds full of optimism.
The race appeared to have panned out perfectly for her, out front as part of a four-woman escape, before indecision in the group over who would take charge over the final kilometre saw the chasing group sweep up, with France’s Pauline Ferrand-Prevot taking the win. Armitstead later admitted deep frustration after crossing in seventh.
“That’s the beauty of cycling. It will always come down to tactical decisions as well as how physically strong you are,” reflects Armitstead.
“There’s not much that I can really change about the outcome of the race about from the things I can control which are my physical shape.
“Trusting my instinct is something that I will try to focus on, rather than listening to too many people around me telling me to be patient, I might just go for it.”
Armitstead’s chance for World Championships glory will come again this September in Richmond, Virginia, although crucially she will get a chance to study the course during the Philadelphia World Cup race in June.
So far the season has been a steady one for the West Yorkshire cyclist with overall victory in the Tour of Qatar followed by a win at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, although it is Dutch rider Anna Van der Bruggen who currently leads the Road World Cup standings after four rounds.
“There’s been a couple of up and downs in 2015, sort of behind the scenes things with a few injuries so it’s not gone as I would have wanted,” added Armitstead.
“But I’ve still won a World Cup and I’m still top three in the world at the moment so it’s not gone bad and I’m feeling good for the second half of the season.
“Really I’ve got about 40 days racing between now and the World Championships.
“I will use some of those races for training, I will use some of them to try and win to have confidence going into the World Championships but it’s really just about staying focused and working hard.”
It is not just this year Armitstead is thinking about either, with Rio 2016 and the chance of upgrading her Olympic silver looming large on the horizon.
The qualification period is already open while the test event will take place in August of this year, with Armistead determined to pull out all the stops to climb the top step of the podium in 2016.
“This year is important because it’s also the start of the qualification period so I need to start scoring points in order to hopefully have a full team represented in Rio,” she said.
“It would be nice to go there with a team of four girls so that I have got three potential helpers. The race itself in Rio will be a very hard race and to prepare physically for that. It’s not only about being a year stronger but a year wiser.
“I will taper my training towards what kind of race it’s going to be depending on what I see in August. If it’s particularly hilly or particularly a sprinters course, then I will change my training.”
Lizzie Armitstead was speaking on behalf of Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries, a partnership between Yorkshire Bank and Cycle Yorkshire. For further information visit www.ybonline.co.uk/bikelibraries
Words: Pippa Field