Women's cycling superstar Lizzie Armitstead aiming to take Rio by storm

Women's cycling World Champion Lizzie Armitstead will be aiming to add to her previous silver medal from London as she heads to Brazil with Team GB.

Women's cycling superstar Lizzie Armitstead aiming to take Rio by storm
Yorkshire's Lizzie Armitstead is in high hopes heading to Rio | Credit: Getty

England's largest and, to all natives, best county today celebrated it's nationally appointed day of recognition, as those of Yorkshire descent went on scenic walks and tucked into the beloved Yorkshire puddings and tea; however, some of Yorkshire's most recognizable and loved sports personalities of recent year's will not be celebrating yet, as they begin training in Rio today ahead if the 2016 Olympic games.

One of these Team GB representatives travelling from her home town of Otley in West Yorkshire is Women's World Cycling Champion Lizzie Armitstead who contributed to Great Britain's total of 65 medals, and Yorkshire's 12 - a tally that would have put the county up to 12th in the overall standings if it was a stand alone country.

A gold in 2014's Commonwealth Games, along with a gold in the World Championships a year later means that Armitstead currently has nine medals to her name in an outstanding palmares decorated with the titles of women's World Champion and winner of various one day and stage race victories.

​Belief no longer an issue for World Champion Armitstead

Within the last couple of days, oil and gas giants BP have posted a promotional video on their social media platforms, featuring Armitstead as it follows her up an ascent in her familiar Yorkshire Dales; it speaks of her worst enemy being her "lack of belief" before she admits that she thought she would "never win gold - until I did", with commentary from her World Championship win overlapping the voiceover.  

Belief is not an attribute that Armitstead would have acknowledged in the past; before delivering Great Britain's first medal of the 2012 Olympics with her silver in the women's road race, Armitstead has admitted she was only hoping for a "top-ten finish".

Those days are long gone now, however, with the 7th placed finish in the UCI World Road Championships in Spain two years ago forgotten along with the inability to finish the job in crucial races. The following year and Armitstead had not only finished first in 10 of her 12 races, but was named UCI World Champion and leader of the UCI's women's road World Cup.

Armitstead awarded the respected rainbow World Champion jersey in 2015 | Credit: cyclingweekly
Armitstead awarded the respected rainbow World Champion jersey in 2015 | Credit: cyclingweekly

Armitstead's inspired form has only bettered during 2016, with her having a perfect record in her six races thus far - winning each one, making her a firm favourite amongst bookies' to take her first gold at an Olympic Games.

​Lack of support could prove costly for Team GB

Unfortunately for the 27 year-old, she will only have two English compatriots supporting her bid for gold, with veteran Emma Pooley and Boels-Dolmans teammate Nikki Harris being the only two excluding Armitstead to qualify. The lack of British names will likely benefit the likes of rivals such as Dutch hopeful, Anna van Breggen who will be supported by one more rider than Armitstead - with one of which being Marianne Vos, who beat the Brit to gold in London four years ago.

The lack of team-mates does not intimidate Armitstead - unsurprisingly - as she states that the 103.3km race will be "an elimination race", with her intentions being to study her rivals and their weaknesses such as the American Mara Abbott, who she has identified to have a problem on cobbles which she will aim to utilise.

Vos, despite missing most of last year through illness, is returning to her normal, formidable self, with the Dutch giant hoping to add to her 30 track and road medals. However, the idea of facing Vos again is pleasing to Armitstead, as she wants to put the debate that she only became World Champion due to the absence of Vos - stating that she "would like her to come back her best."

Vos challenge relished by Armitstead | Credit: Getty
Vos challenge relished by Armitstead | Credit: Getty

​Extensive research into rivals is crucial

But how will the Yorkshire girl beat her opposition? Well, having spent all of May working on her climbing, the Rio hopeful has stated her plan to stay around the peloton's strongest climbers over the top, hopefully dropping the sprinters, and using the remainder of her energy to outmanoeuvre the challengers on the technical descents and flat-run in on the Copacabana.

Whatever happens come Sunday's race, Armitstead's ambition and arrangement ahead of it; four years on from her London silver, and the Brit can certainly be proud of what she has achieved leading up to potentially the most important race of her career. Perhaps Yorkshire day will not be the only day Otley's own will celebrate this month.