Talking Shop: Lizzie Armitstead

EXCLUSIVE: VeloUK talks to one of the World stars in Women’s Cycling, the delightful Lizzie Armistead, British Road Race Champion.

Larry Hickmott writes … My abiding memory of Lizzie was when in 2005, she won a medal at the Junior Track Worlds in Austria having only just been ‘discovered’ at a school in Yorkshire (Otley). Now, Lizzie, riding for Garmin Cervelo, is not only British Road Race Champion for Women but also one of the Worlds top road sprinters in the women’s peloton.

Her chance to be World Champion last weekend was ended by a crash a kilometre out from the line with Lizzie sprinting in for 7th place. Talking to Lizzie prior to a track championship ‘blow out’ to find her track legs ahead of the more important events for her later in the week, Lizzie admitted the Road Worlds were a ‘big disappointment and that having been caught up in that crash with under a K to go, she then had to make my own way in the sprint.”

There is though a bright side to everything as Lizzie admits “I have progressed this year though. I have had a lot of top threes on the road and worked for the team and my road riding has definitely come on. I’m not sure about my track riding however. We’ll find out this week I guess!”

Asked when did she get back on to the track prior to the championships, it only took one word to answer the question, ‘now’.
“It is just an experiment to see how I go on the track straight from the road.”

Lizzie looks to find her track legs in the 500 metre time trial

Asked if that was with an eye on London 2012 and doubling up on the road and track, Lizzie replied “possibly. I think this winter is when the decisions will be made on that. Certainly, it isn’t going to do me any harm doing this sort of thing.”

“The better I become on the road though, the harder it is to come in and compete with the girls who are so much stronger than they used to be so it’s not like you can just drop in. I think the difficulty for me is you come from a major target such as the road worlds where you are so specifically trained and fit for that event, to come back to the track nationals and feel crap knowing if it was 140km, you’d know you’d be good. That is the main difficulty in mixing the two disciplines.”

Lizzie’s boyfriend, Adam Blythe, is one of the peloton’s top sprinters (Adam is going to BMC next year) and I asked Lizzie do they learn from each other’s experiences racing professionally. She replied “I think I learn from him! He’s been doing this since he was six so I’ll always talk to Adam about certain finishes and what I need to do but no, I’m afraid I can’t advise him!”

Talking about the work that GB helped her at the Road Worlds, Lizzie says “I’m pretty pleased with the way most of the girls rode. I was really well protected up until that point of the crash and just missed that final wheel.” Asked which riders specifically were helping her during the race, Lizzie replied “Lucy Martin was assigned to me and Katie as well and they did that job fantastically, I was never alone and really impressed with the way they rode.”

Women’s coach Paul Manning talks to Lizzie Armitstead at the Manchester World Track Cup this year. Lizzie is one of Britain’s most successful endurance riders on the track but has also now become one of the most successful on the road and the question is, can Lizzie do both at the 2012 Olympics?

Asked to give an insight into what a rider helping some one like Lizzie might have to do, the British Champion and multi World Championship medallist on the track replied “if there had been cross winds and it was lined out in the gutter, then I would not have had to ride in the gutter as there would have been some one there to protect me. Lucy also gave me two bottles during the race because the feed zone was hectic . It’s about just  having someone there to support me.”

Looking ahead to 2012, a big year for all British cyclists, Lizzie explained that as she has a two year contract with Garmin, she will be staying with that team for the next season but nothing about her programme is settled as yet having just come off a big target on the road”.

“I’m going to sit down with Paul (Manning) on Friday and  discuss how the winter is going to look. I haven’t got in my head what I’m going to do because it’s all just too big to comprehend at the moment.”

One of the things Lizzie admits she needs is a break having not had one since the same time last year  but with the Olympics, and qualifying for that to be done, and potentially two disciplines to train for, road and track, the next nine or ten months look like being hectic for the Yorkshire lass.

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