Boasting a glittering career which had already seen her claim world championships on the track, an Olympic medal and a Commonwealth title, Lizzie Armitstead came into 2015 with a clear goal in mind: to win the coveted World Road Race Championship.
On September 26, that dream came true in Richmond, Virginia, as Armitstead won a thrilling sprint finish to claim the title – becoming the fourth British woman to do so.
With just two laps of the 129.6-kilometre race remaining, Armitstead’s hopes looked to be over after nine riders had gained over a minute on the peloton. Without any team-mates left, Armitstead has missed the move and it seemed the breakaway would last the distance.
However, attacks from the peloton saw the good work that the leaders had put in to establish their advantage go to waste, and the race was back together for the final two climbs up 23rd Street and Governor Street.
Armitstead attacked on both, but on each occasion was pulled back. It was left to a bunch finish on the false flat and the Briton showed her tactical astuteness to time her sprint to perfection, with Anna van der Breggen unable to catch her.
After following in the footsteps of Nicole Cooke, Mandy Jones and Beryl Burton, Armistead said:
“This is the big one; you get to wear the jersey and the rainbows are a very special thing in cycling. It's a dream come true.”
The achievement tasted even sweeter after Armitstead was edged out of contention after a tactical misjudgement in the 2014 Championships in Ponferrada – something which the 26 year-old admitted she found difficult to come to terms with.
In contrast though, 2015 could hardly have gone better for Armitstead, who won the UCI Women’s Road World Cup – for the second successive year – and was crowned British national champion just a matter of days after being stretchered away from a nasty crash at the finish line of stage one of the Women’s Tour; a race which she also won.
Her spectacular 12 months have enhanced her reputation as the best female road cyclist in the world, earned her a raft of award nominations, and set her up perfectly for a tilt at Olympic gold in Rio next year, something which Armitstead admits she is now fully focused on.
To vote for Lizzie Armitstead to win Sports Personality of the Year, register at www.bbc.co.uk/sport/sports-personality. Voting will open during the live programme on 20 December.