Armitstead proud of her part in the rise of cycling

Lizzie Armitstead
Lizzie Armitstead
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Lizzie Armitstead may have broken the ‘curse of the rainbow jersey’, but the world champion has to temper the expectations of friends and family ahead of tomorrow’s Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire.

The 27-year-old will take to the start line in her hometown of Otley for the 135-kilometres route to Doncaster, with August’s Rio Olympics her focus.

Armitstead had a stellar spring, debunking the myth that the rainbow jersey is cursed.

She won the Women’s Tour of Flanders, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche and Trofeo Alfredo Binda, but races in Great Britain colours on Saturday after a week off the bike.

Armitstead said: “I’m excited about it. I’m proud, because I do think it’s a result of the upsurge in sport I’ve had a small part to play that.

“I’m lining up in support of that, rather than aiming to win it.

“It’s difficult to have a week off your bike and go into one of these races that to the media, friends and family it’s quite a big event – I have to focus on Rio.”

After the Asda Women’s Tour de Yorkshire announced a first prize of £15,000, the Prudential RideLondon Classique offered a new record prize for a women’s race of Euros 25,000 (around £19,000).

Armitstead added: “Long may it continue. Let’s hope another billionaire has an ego trip too. The more the merrier.”

Armitstead will return to Britain for June’s Women’s Tour and the British Championships in Stockton-on-Tees before racing the Giro Rosa in Italy, one-day race La Course by Le Tour and then the Olympics.

She added: “Rio it will be the best climber in the world that wins. The difference is it’s a one-day race. It’s a classic with a very technical fast downhill after a hard mountain. Get as close as I can to those climbers over that mountain, bomb down the descent into Rio.”

Armitstead will be aiming to fulfil a lifelong dream, having already succeeded in another when she won the world champion’s rainbow jersey in Richmond last September.

“Every single time I put it on I still think ‘wow’,” she added.

“I feel proud. Looking down and seeing the rainbow jersey, the bands on my shorts, it’s always a reminder that I’ve done it.”