Published: 30 March 2012
Report: Scott Hobro
Great Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead can make 2012 the defining year of her career so far, according to women’s road coach Chris Newton.
This Sunday’s Tour of Flanders, which Armitstead described as the ‘main goal of the spring’, will see five of the six British riders striving for the four spots in the women’s Olympic road team in action. Armitstead, Emma Pooley, Lucy Martin and Sharon Laws will be in the colours of Dutch outfit AA Drink–leontien.nl for the 127km race, whilst Nicole Cooke rides for Faren Honda Team. Katie Colcough, of Team Specialized-lululemon, will not be competing.
Armitstead, 23, enters the race in strong form – having won the inaugural women's Gent-Wevelgem following on from victory in the Omloop van het Hageland. Newton, an Olympic silver medallist, feels Armitstead is nearing the perfect alchemy for success on the biggest stages.
“It’s a combination – there’s the age element and experience and it’s the Olympic Games in the back garden, all of those put together could make a fantastic year. But it’s a case that if one doesn’t happen it’s not necessarily a failure. Results are hard to come by but having results already it’s already a successful year but could be the best one ever to date because there is so much to come as well.”
Whilst Newton is optimistic that the candidates striving for the four spots in the women’s Olympic road team can deliver at this weekend’s Tour of Flanders, he maintained that the principal aim will be to hit peak form ahead of July’s Olympic road race and that until then performances may fluctuate.
“The riders are coming through from their winter training and early season prep and going into the racing season. We won’t have everyone on song straight away which is understandable. To be fair what we want is everyone to be on song come July and it will be a bit of a wave pattern – some riders going better than others at certain times but it will eventually become a peak for July.
“I’m out there at Tour of Flanders this weekend to oversee the race and get a bit more insight to them and to see how things are going - technically, tactically, on form, see how races are going and how riders are contributing to that – whether they are forcing it, reacting to it.”