Tour de Yorkshire the first step on Lizzie Armitstead's road to Rio

Lizzie Armitstead will return to racing at the Tour de Yorkshire after a short break, as she begins her build up to the Rio Games

Whatever the weather, there’ll be a rainbow in Otley this Saturday when world champion Lizzie Armitstead starts the women’s Tour de Yorkshire in her home town.

The one day event will be Armitstead’s first race after a short mid-season break designed to help her recover from a hectic, but successful spring campaign.

The 27-year-old has experienced unprecedented success so far this year, winning four one day races, three of which were WorldTour events, including the coveted Tour of Flanders, a long held career goal.

Her most recent outing was last week’s Flèche Wallonne where she rode in support of her Boels-Domans American teammates, Evie Stevens and Megan Guarnier, who finished in second and third positions respectively.

Watch: Tour de Yorkshire essential guide

As opposed to the rainbow stripes, that race saw Armitstead ride wearing the Women’s WorldTour leader’s jersey, something she was not entirely happy with.

“Obviously I’d prefer to wear the rainbow jersey,” she told Cycling Weekly.“It represents an incredible amount of work and the WorldTour jersey is something different, it’s more a marketing thing for the Women’s WorldTour.

"But the Women’s WorldTour has a manifesto surrounding it to improve the women’s sport and if the jersey represents that, it’s a good thing, but it doesn’t mean I have to dream of winning it.”

Despite having had one in her wardrobe since September, the rainbow jersey remains very special.

“I love racing in it.” she continued. “It’s every cyclist’s dream, it’s iconic. I don’t think it transcends across sport - being an Olympic champion is massive in sport, everyone understands it - but true cyclists, cycling fans appreciate the rainbow jersey more, I think. It’s something that I’ve always dreamed of wearing.”

Though her world championship title is close to her heart, the Olympic road race is Armitstead’s focus for the rest of the year. The “brutal” Rio course means Armitstead will now focus on improving her climbing in the hope she can move one step higher than the silver medal she won at London 2012.

With Tour fever hitting Yorkshire, there is no better time to sign up for a Yorkshire sportive.

26 June - Ripon Revolution -

24 July - Scarborough Black -

01 October - Wiggle Ay Up! Yorkshire -

The break from riding will kickstart that regime, though it is was more designed as recovery from a frantic spring which has brought new pressures for the Commonwealth and three time British champion.

“It’s been challenging, there’s a lot of expectations,” she explained. “There’s been a lot more media than I’ve ever had to deal with before, but the best thing is when I get to race.

"I’m always talking about being world champion, when I actually get my helmet on and get in the race, I think finally think this is what I am doing it for, this is what it’s all about about. I love the riding part.”

At this weekend’s Tour de Yorkshire Armitstead will doubtless start as the overwhelming favourite, and the opportunity to wear the rainbow stripes in front of her home crowd could well make up for any lack of training miles.

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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.