Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting WONEWS to 80360, or email
Home visit is a boost for Lizzie as she prepares for race of her life
6:30am Thursday 28th June 2012 in Sport
Lizzie Armitstead has the nation’s hopes on her shoulders as she bids for Olympic gold but the only person she is worried about impressing is herself.
With cycling set to harvest a sizeable medal haul for Great Britain at the Games, the Otley star could rise to national prominence if she fullfils her rich potential on the world’s biggest stage.
The 23-year-old was last week named in the four-rider team for the 140km road race on July 29, which finishes on The Mall, along with Olympic champion Nicole Cook, Emma Pooley and Lucy Martin.
In addition, Armitstead and Pooley – silver medallist in the time-trial in Beijing – are set to ride against the clock at Hampton Court on August 1.
The former Prince Henry’s Grammar School pupil was back in her hometown last week as a special guest at the annual Otley Cycles Races as she gears up for the biggest race of her life next month.
Armitstead said: “I try not to think about pressure because at the end of the day I’m racing for me and that’s the only person I should try and worry about impressing.
“I know I’ve done myself justice in training and now I’ve just got to go and do it in the Olympics.
“My parents have always taught me that it’s up to me to achieve what I need to achieve, so I’ve always felt responsible for my own destiny.
“There's always room for improvement, but from experience I can feel when my body is in the right place.
“It definitely feels like that so I’m feeling really confident.”
Armitstead was identified as a possible star of the future in her mid-teens, shortly after the decision to award the Olympics to London.
She has never looked back and her sights are now firmly fixed on Olympic glory.
“It would mean an awful lot to win a medal,” said Armitstead. “It’s the Olympics that drives me on.
“I think it will be strange to see where my motivation will come from after the Games are over.”
Armitstead was delighted to attend the Otley Cycle Races last Wednesday.
It was a chance to be reunited with her family, including her grandma Marjorie Dunn, who is usually seen at her races donning a bright yellow t-shirt bearing the words ‘I’m Lizzie Armitstead’s grandma’.
Her brother Nick rode in the Chevin Classic and Lizzie would have ridden her herself had the Olympics not been looming.
She explained: “I’ve raced at Otley for the past few years but not this year, not with the Olympics just round the corner.
“It’s not an important race for selection and is just not worth the risk, but it’s been lovely to be back in Otley.
“I’ve been based in Nice quite a lot of the time as the climate is so much better than it is here. The weather has not been great in England so I’ve been lucky to avoid it.
“With my brother enjoying and doing well with his cycling, it’s really nice now that every time I come home I’ve got someone to train with.
“It makes a difference especially because it’s not his job, it’s his hobby, so he’s always enthusiastic about it. It’s nice and I enjoy my cycling a lot more when I’m home.
“It’s strange because before I started cycling I wasn’t really aware of the magnitude of the Otley Cycle Races, but now there are so many thousands of people here. It’s great to be here and I love it.
“Yorkshire is trying to stage the Tour de France and that would be brilliant. Normally bike races in Yorkshire come through Otley so I’m sure it would at least come close if it does come to Yorkshire.
“Last year I was at the Otley Races thinking ‘one more year and the Olympics will be just around the corner,’ and now they are here.”