Cycleplan caught up with its ambassador and Women’s cycling World Champion, Lizzie Armitstead, to find out how she’s balancing both on and off-bike activities since becoming World Champion. With the Rio Olympic Games on the horizon, Armitstead discusses Team GB’s chance of lots of medals this summer and who she’s predicting will have an ‘incredibly special’ year. She also explains how she’s specifically focusing her training regime on the hilly track in Rio.
As World Champion, do you feel you’ve crossed the divide from being well known within the cycling community to being recognised as a British sports star?
“I think it’s difficult to know whether I’m a British sports star in the eyes of the British public, or just a cyclist. I’m in my little bubble, and what I focus on is on the bike and not really the other stuff surrounding it. I hope so, I hope that cycling has become one of the most popular sports in the UK. And because of that, then hopefully my profile will increase.”
Has fame made things easier for you or harder?
“Harder – definitely! I don’t class myself as famous, not at all. But the small level of fame that I do have makes things, quite difficult. I’m a lot busier off the bike than I used to be and that can have a detrimental effect to performance. But at the moment I’m trying to balance, and I think I’m doing okay.”
What do you think of Britain’s chances in cycling this time?
“Great Britain is one of the strongest cycling nations, and I think we have the chance of lots of medals. And hopefully lots of gold medals in Rio.”
Team GB dominated London 2012. Can they do the same in Rio?
“I don’t see why not, yeah. Everybody’s working just as hard as they were running into London. Obviously we might miss that home crowd, but the determination is just the same as it was in London.”
Is there anyone in the British team you think we should watch out for in particular?
“I think Chris Froome is going to have a phenomenal race. If he wins the Tour de France and goes on to win Olympic gold, then that’s going to be incredibly special.”
The Rio 2016 course will feature plenty of climbs. Has this impacted your preparation?
“All my preparation is specific, completely focused on the final climb in Rio.
How do you stay energised and hydrated on race day?
“I eat a lot! (laughs) I eat a lot and I drink a lot. It’s something that I focus on just as much as turning the pedals.”
Talks us through your training regime…
“My training regime’s very varied. It’s sort of between 3-5 hours a day at the moment, including different intervals on climbs mostly.”
How did you actually get into cycling in the first place?
“I started cycling when I was 15 years old. I was talent spotted at school – [I] was a normal teenager before that. So luckily enough, this talent identification programme came to school and I started that way.”