An Olympic silver medal may be the accolade that defines and still fills Lizzie Armitstead with enormous pride, but two years on it is the hunt for gold that drives her on.
The 25-year-old from Otley – who rode to second place in the road race at London 2012 – has begun Commonwealth Games year in the form of her life.
She has a brace of wins and two further podium finishes from four races in Belgium and Holland this Spring and reaches the first landmark race of 2014, tomorrow’s Tour of Flanders, with only one thing in mind – victory.
“Second would be a disappointing result,” was her bullish prediction to the UCI World Cup event. “No question. I’m confident, I’m in form and I might never get a better opportunity than this, so I’ll be gutted if I don’t win.
“Realistically, I think my chances of winning are very good. I’m experienced enough not to kid myself, but barring incident, I should be fighting for the victory.”
The Tour of Flanders is a joint UCI meeting with an elite men’s and women’s race.
For Armitstead, who has a national title to defend this summer, plus a first Commonwealth title and world championship to try and win, it is a significant marker for the campaign ahead.
Having started the season so well, particularly with victory in the Ronde van Drenthe – the first World Cup event of the season – Armitstead returned to Yorkshire for a brief visit hoping not to lose the winning formula before her return to competition.
“The danger is that good form is very, very delicate,” she said. “You don’t want to be around sick people, for a start.
“Plus, you have to be wary of over-training and wearing your body out, which, for me, is more dangerous than under-training.”
Ahead of the Tour of Flanders, the third of nine World Cup races this year, Armitstead added: “I’ve got a very specific plan in mind, but I know exactly how I want to win the race. Obviously, I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself, and I am nervous, but it’s an excited nervousness.”