Feature Interview – Lizzie Armitstead


Talking to  a superstar in Women’sCycling, the World Road Cup and Commonwealth Games Champion Lizzie Armitstead

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Feature Interview – Lizzie Armitstead

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It has been a stellar year for Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead. If winning the Women’s World Road Cup was not enough, Lizzie dominated the Commonwealth Games Road Race and was so close to adding a medal in the Road Worlds to that collection.


It was a season of ups and downs in 2014 but the Otley young lady started 2015 with a victory after smashing the Points race at Revolution 48, lapping the rest on her own and showing just what a special talent she is.

“That was a massive surprise” Lizzie said as we started the interview. “I came here to have a bit of fun really as I feel a loyalty to the event as it’s where it started for me.”

My own memories of Lizzie’s career go back to the Junior Worlds in 2005. There, Lizzie won a Silver medal and kick started her climb up the world ladder in cycling to a point where she is one of the super stars in Women’s cycling.

“Those are still some of my favourite memories” Lizzie explained. “We had a real family atmosphere and I am really grateful for those two years as a Junior because it was different then.”

“There wasn’t this huge pressure that I think the juniors have now and I was just there to enjoy it and that first Silver medal was a massive surprise. It’s kind of been the story of my career; a lot of Silver medals, but at that time, I had no idea how to make a career out of it. It was my school holidays and I was going on a trip! It wasn’t about making a living out of cycling which it is now.”


2005 and a Silver medal at the Junior Worlds for Lizzie.

Women’s cycling has also changed a great a deal since 2005, for the better as well with more races and respect from the public especially by the fans in Britain. “There has been massive progress in 2014 for Women’s cycling” Lizzie agrees. “It’s always going to be something I am asked about, women’s cycling and how its improving, and all I can say are positive things.”

“La Course was a huge event as was the (Friend’s Life) Women’s Tour, and we have more with Strade Bianche and a Vuelta stage in 2015. All these key races make me so grateful I am involved in women’s cycling at this point”.

Not everything is ideal though. Whilst most of the top riders are professionals, there are many well known names who don’t get paid at all. Lizzie is one of many who thinks that riders should be paid. “I’m not doing the sport for the money, or expecting a million euro contract. I am realistic that we don’t have that market value but what do we need is a minimum wage”.

“I am not naïve and know we are not at the same level as men’s cycling but to have a minimum wage would be a start”. Lizzie added though that it is possible for the top riders to make a living and is something for younger riders to aspire to.

Looking back at 2014
Winning a series like the World Cup requires a rider to be consistent but Lizzie took at that to a whole new level with a run of podium finishes race after race in the Spring.

Lizzie started the World Cup winning the Ronde van Drenth and was then second to Emma Johansson in the second World Cup in Italy (Trofea Alfredo Binda). Incredibly, Lizzie was then second in Round 3, the Women’s Tour of Flanders and second again in round 4, La Fleche Wallonia. Four races and no lower than second, Lizzie was on fire!


After losing the stripes in Abergaveny when she attacked over and over only for Emma Pooley to drag the race back to her, Lizzie is looking to put some daylight between her and her rivals on the infamous climb of Michaelgate.

Lizzie next figured in the World Cup in Sweden many months later where, in a Team Time Trial, her squad finished third and helped Lizzie maintain that series of podiums in the World Cups she raced. The next World Cup, also in Sweden, saw Lizzie in 8th place and that was where she finished in the final race in France, the GP Plouay. It was some performance, especially in the first half of the year.

To help explain such an incredible run of podiums, Lizzie said “I am lucky in the way I have been brought up in cycling and learning to be responsible for doing my own thing. What I see a lot of people around me do when they reach a certain level is listening to 15 different people. But, for me on a training camp, if someone is going out and doing an extra two hours , that isn’t something I let affect me. I know what I am doing and what works and stick to that which led to me being consistent.”

“I accepted what I had to do that was best for me with my career being away from home. The sacrifices you make in not seeing people and friends and knowing I could not please everybody, I felt I may as well do what I am doing properly”.

“I didn’t travel as much so had more recovery and changed the training as well. I either train with Tiffany Cromwell (another rider who was in Vienna at the 2005 Junior worlds) or go out on my own. I don’t do junk miles with anyone; when I train, I train properly”.

Lizzie explained in another interview how she trained harder than the race at the Worlds where the break she was in, was caught in the final kilometre and it’s a disappointment she won’t forget. “That was a big step up to be able to say that I trained harder than the World Championships but it is true”.

“I just put myself through a lot of physical pain and this off season has been quite difficult because I wanted to keep that up but I fell off the edge a bit before Christmas as I needed a rest. So to have a victory here tonight is a relief because it shows I am not as terrible as I thought I would be here!”


Lizzie and Marianne Vos (in green) sprinting it out for the mid race sprints.

The 2014 season was in marked contrast to the one in 2013 where Lizzie had a disappointing time of it after the success of the Olympics. “2013 was a hard year, post Olympics. I had had a very busy off season and stuff at home was hard too. I didn’t feel settled and all those things add up and sap your energy”.

“If you’re happy and settled, everything falls into place. Being with Philip (Deignan ) has helped and although we don’t talk cycling much, just being happy has had a positive impact on my cycling.”

Lizzie admits that for all the highlights in 2014, there were low points like losing the British Road Race Championship jersey after being so aggressive. “I feel real pride wearing those stripes and I will definitely be trying to get them back. The Lincoln course is a great one for me and I should be able to create some space on that climb.”

The other race where Lizzie wants to make amends is the Olympic RR. The Yorkshire lass has finished second far too many times in races including in that one and admits all she wants is Gold in Rio. The focus on that race has already started with Lizzie saying she is looking to go and look at the course at some point this season.

“The sooner I know what I need to be as a rider the better. It sounds hard and challenging so I am looking forward to seeing it”.

The 2015 Women’s World Road Cup will not be a goal Lizzie explained saying that she would rather win some major events instead of being consistent. “I want to win Flanders and the World Championships (among others) so the season is about perhaps sacrificing some of that consistency to peak for the major events. l also expect to race the Giro which I have missed before so I can take more of a break in August”.

Lizzie, sitting next to Joanna Rowsell at Revolution 48, then added proudly, “I also have Jo’s wedding to look forward to in July!”


Winning in her home town of Otley

Another race Lizzie is looking forward to is the Friends Life Women’s Tour where she has unfinished business as well. “As a British rider, that race has to feature in my programme! To be honest, I was a little over whelmed by it last year as I wasn’t expecting it to be that big”.

“I was ill too and so it was a negative experience for me because I wanted to showcase what I could do in front of the home crowd. There were so many goose pimple moments with the huge crowds and hopefully they (Sweetspot) will stick in a few lumpier stages”.

The Women’s Tour also highlighted how close it is at the top of Women’s cycling. For me, never having seen an international race close up except for a World Cup many years ago in Wales, it was fascinating photographing the battle between Vos and Armitstead. They would swap victories in the mid race sprints and Lizzie says that because the race was filmed, she has learnt a lot about her sprinting especially against Vos who is a very similar rider to Lizzie (all-rounder).

Lizzie’s 2015 season will start in Qatar in early February, a full month before the classics began. The training though has already started with what she called longer intervals.

“My base work is done so I’ll be doing longer intervals in January because February is too late to be doing them. You only have a six week window for the Classics and you need to be going well at the start”.

“The classics is always the most important part of the season for me and I am really excited about the women’s Strade Bianchi. But I am also really happy and proud with how the team is developing. We are one of the strongest in the world. Evie Stevens and Chantal Blaak will improve our chances of winning the World TTT title as they both have impressive palmares and I am looking forward to help them achieve more results.”

Thank you to Lizzie for the chat and we look forward to following her fortunes during the year.

2014 Key Results
1st Road Race Commonwealth Games
1st Overall UCI Women’s Road World Cup
3rd Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
1st Omloop van het Hageland
3rd Drentse 8
1st Ronde van Drenthe World Cup
2nd Trofeo Alfredo Binda
2nd Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen)
2nd La Flèche Wallonne Féminine
2nd Emakumeen Saria
3rd British National Road Race Championships[21]
1st Otley Grand Prix
2nd Overall Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen
1st Points classification
1st Mountains classification
1st Stage 1
3rd RideLondon Grand Prix

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