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Armitstead desperate to regain Nationals jersey
Lizzie Armitstead is eager to successfully defend her British Championships road race title in Ampleforth on Sunday as she bids to strengthen her case to be team leader at the Olympic Games.
The 23-year-old from Otley is set to ride in her first Olympics after being confirmed in the four-rider squad alongside 2008 Games champion Nicole Cooke, Emma Pooley and Lucy Martin.
Cooke won nine successive British titles before Pooley triumphed in 2010 and Armitstead in 2011.
The Yorkshirewoman is looking to prevail once more in her home county after winning in Stamfordham, Northumberland last year.
“Every nationals means a lot to me. I’m defending the jersey as well, so it’s a bit more pressure, I suppose,” said Hornby ambassador Armitstead.
“I’m feeling in good shape. I’ve not seen the course, so I’m not sure how testing it will be and whether any of the climbs are long enough for Emma to get away.
“I’m fairly confident. I’m hoping it will be a select group again and I can hopefully win the sprint.”
Armitstead insists her public spat with Cooke after last September’s World Championships is firmly in the past.
She was nominated team leader but after a disappointing result accused Cooke of riding “for herself”.
Armitstead admits her tenacity and self-confidence will likely mean she is expected to deliver come July 29 on The Mall if selected as leader ahead of Cooke, but she believes internal competition is a big plus.
“In many people’s minds, they’ll probably expect more,” she added.
“I suppose I’ve put myself in that position by the problems we’ve had in the media.
“If you’ve got more domestic competition then you’re going to get higher results in international competition. Healthy rivalry is a good thing.”
Armitstead, Pooley, Martin and Sharon Laws all ride for AA drink leontien.nl, while Cooke is the sole representative from Faren-Honda for Sunday’s 107-kilometre race.
Pooley, a renowned climber, believes her chances of success are slim.
The 29-year-old said: “Nationals is always very hard to win, because it’s not like a normal road race and you don’t ride as a team.
“I’d like to win, but I don’t think there’s a mountain in it.”
Immediately after the women’s event, the men’s 182km race will take place, with Team Sky seeking a third successive victory.
Defending champion Bradley Wiggins, world champion Mark Cavendish and Geraint Thomas, the 2010 champion, are absent, with five riders from Team Sky participating.
The winner will be expected to come from Alex Dowsett, Jeremy Hunt, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard and Ben Swift, but Russell Downing (Endura) and 2009 champion Kristian House (Rapha Condor Sharp) are among the riders who cannot be discounted.
* Hornby is an official product supplier of the London 2012 Olympic Games, and British cyclist Lizzie Armitstead is the company’s brand ambassador.
For more information on Hornby’s Team GB Scalextric Velodrome Cycling set and range of London 2012 toys, visit www.hornby.com/2012.
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