When writing about women’s cycling in Britain you must speak about many riders, but nowadays, there’s a girl over the rest. 25-year-old Lizzie Armitstead will ride for second year in a row for Dutch team Boels Dolmans, where the also British Emma Trott will be Lizzie’s teammate. In 2013, Armitstead was the main character in every race she took, and she got the Road Race National Championship for the second time in her career. In 2014, the Otley-borned wants to get at least the same results she got last year, and she’s doing it well so far—she was on the Top Ten at three of the four Ladies Tour of Qatar stages and she won the Omloop van het Hageland – Tielt-Winge.
And just after the Qatari race, Armitstead kindly answered our questions. The first question couldn’t be other but about the national champion jersey she’ll wear, at least until June. “It is very important to me to wear the jersey and showcase British Cycling whilst racing in Europe,” Armitstead says. A jersey that the British cyclist would like to win again: “It is a season goal to win the championships again.” But that won’t be her only objective. She likes whatever championships, but the Commonwealth Games Road Race is the one she hasn’t won yet. “The Commonwealth Games are a big target for me, they are important when you are an English rider. I won silver in 2010 and I feel I have a good chance at gold this year.” And she doesn’t say “no” to the track: “Possibly for the Commonwealth Games, but for the Olympic programme I will stay on the road,” she recalls. And what’s the most important championship for any cyclist? The Worlds. Lizzie tells us her thoughts about Vos’ domination—the Dutch beat Armitstead under the Olympic rain. “Of course everybody asks how it is possible to beat Vos at a World Championship, I believe that she is the favorite for most courses but of course there is also the rest of the world to think about. I always race to win.”
Her team, Boels Dolmans, is currently the fourth classified in the CQRanking (much better than the official UCI Ranking.) This will be Lizzie’s second season riding for the Dutch squad, and one of her new teammates will be the world Time Trial champion, Dutch Ellen van Dijk. Armitstead looks happy with this new signing: “I am really happy with the new signings, I prefer to ride in a strong team because I think it gives you greater opportunities to be successful in races.” When we asked about the team’s targets, she doesn’t think about it twice: “The team wants to be on the podium at the World Team Time Trial Championships in Spain.” And speaking about Spain, we asked her what she knows about Spanish women’s cycling, and we truly like her answer: “I always have Durango-Durango and Bira on my race program me — I really like these races, they are very well organized and the courses suit me.”
We also reviewed how her 2013 was like, when she tried and failed to materialize a World Championship as she’d have dreamed. “The World Championships in Florence last year were my hardest race ever. I was not in the best shape and it was a very challenging course.” Nevertheless, she never stopped fighting and finished the race in the top 20: “The motivation is high at a race like this so I gave everything I had to try and stay with the front.” Speaking about past seasons, she remarks 2010 season, the year when she won her first pro race on the road. “My first victory on the road was special, I had a lot of support as a track rider from my federation but not so much on the road,” the British says. “I worked hard to achieve a contract with Cérvelo Test Team, I won a stage at the Tour de l’Aude, and was a very proud part of Emma Pooley’s overall victory.”
On her preseason, Lizzie told us her secret: “I don’t do other sports, I always train on the bike,” but she also enjoys a deserved vacation: “I have 3 weeks off my bike and a holiday in the sunshine and then I start again.” Finally we asked her about the steps that are being taken to achieve a greater impact of women’s cycling: “I think it [La Course by Le Tour, the one-day race that will take place just before the last stage of the Tour] is a huge step forward for women’s cycling and I am very grateful for the organizers giving us this platform.” That race will predictably be for sprinters and Lizzie, even not being a top sprinter, will fight to achieve more success in what promises to be her best season as a professional.