World champion Armitstead eyes double celebration in 2016

Tears of joy: The enormity of the accomplishment hits Lizzie Armitstead as she wins the world title in Richmond. (Picture: AP)
Tears of joy: The enormity of the accomplishment hits Lizzie Armitstead as she wins the world title in Richmond. (Picture: AP)
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Otley’s Lizzie Armitstead has some grand plans for her year in the rainbow jersey following last weekend’s historic world title win. Lee Sobot reports.

YORKSHIRE’S new world champion Lizzie Armitstead has thrown her support behind an extended women’s Tour De Yorkshire in 2016, but insists her prime focus will be on the Rio Olympics – and her dream Yorkshire wedding.

Otley star Armitstead made international headlines last weekend when becoming just the fourth British woman in history to win the UCI World Road Championship after a scintillating effort in Richmond, Virginia.

And while the 26-year-old now lives in Monaco with fiancé Philip Deignan, the cyclist admits that Yorkshire remains deeply close to her heart ahead of this weekend’s flight back to Leeds to see her family.

Armitstead will have plenty on her plate next year as she bids to become an Olympic champion and go one better than her silver medal in the women’s road race of London 2012.

The cycling star will also tie the knot to Deignan with a Yorkshire wedding planned for after the Olympics in late summer but the passionate Yorkshire cyclist says she would definitely make time to also compete at the 2016 Tour de Yorkshire if organisers make it worth her while.

Armitstead told The Yorkshire Post: “Obviously for me next year is all about Rio but there’s also my wedding and that’s going to be a big event.

“As far as a Tour De Yorkshire goes, I’ve heard different rumours and I’m not 100 per cent sure if there’s going to be a Tour de Yorkshire or not. But if there is and they make it a decent distance then I’d be there.

“I’m not going to come home just for an 80km to the city centre but if they put on a proper bike race I will be there.”

Speaking of proper bike races, Armitstead is still coming to terms with winning her discipline’s second most important contest in the world.

Victory in Virginia capped a stellar year for the national champion – considerably her best yet – yet the Yorkshire star hopes her ultimate career high will be saved for Rio. “Becoming world champion is just the best feeling,” beamed the former Prince Henry’s Grammar School pupil. “You can win so much in cycling without being world champion and be the best in the world really.

“I’ve won the World Cups for the last two years which means that I’ve been consistently the best in the world but I didn’t have my hands on the rainbow jersey and that’s what translates to people – being able to tell them you’re a world champion is what people understand and what you get the rainbow for. I’ve just always wanted that and nothing else is really enough.

“I can say that I’m world champion now, the best in the world and have the title to go with it. Now it’s definitely all about Rio and in terms of personal goals then to be an Olympic champion would surpass being world champion.

“The world championships are also in Qatar next October although that’s not really on my horizons to be honest. I’m just thinking about Rio as in an Olympic year you can’t really have too many goals. I don’t think you can look at anything other than the Olympics.”

Armitstead can, though, now look forward to a few weeks’ well-earned rest, though ironically even part of her forthcoming plans upon returning back to Yorkshire involve cycling.

Armitstead was due to fly back into Leeds last night and said: “I’ll probably meet up with some friends and go out for a meal and I’m not sure, there might be a surprise party. I’ve heard a few different things.

“My grandparents have also got their diamond wedding anniversary the week after so there will be a big family party and I will try not to crash that.

“I think we are down near Rutland Water Reservoir or something. We are staying in some huts and going on a bike ride – just what I want to do on my holidays!”