World title chances are good for Yorkshire pair

Otley's Lizzie Armitstead.  Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Otley's Lizzie Armitstead. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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IT is not beyond the realms of possibility this weekend that Yorkshire could claim two world titles in road cycling.

Otley’s Lizzie Armitstead, the Olympic silver medallist of two years ago and form rider this summer, is among the favourites for the women’s race in Ponferrada, Spain, tomorrow.

The chances of Rotherham’s Ben Swift accomplishing what just two other Britons – Tommy Simpson and Mark Cavendish – have achieved over an extended course later in the day are not as strong, but such is the form he has enjoyed this summer, the 26-year-old Team Sky rider can not be discounted.

Former Tour de France winner Chris Froome, certainly thinks so.

“It’s a very open race,” said Froome, Swift’s Team Sky team-mate. “It could end in a sprint, it could be a breakaway.

“We have got a lot of confidence in Ben Swift. We have got a really competitive team and I think Swifty is in really good form and he is certainly up for it.

“Helping out is the least I can do after all the work the guys put in for me. I’m happy to go there and do what is required from me on the day.”

Armitstead has also received glowing praise of her attributes, but this time from one of her chief rivals for the rainbow jersey, Holland’s Marianne Vos.

Armitstead has won the UCI World Cup series this year and the Commonwealth Games gold medal.

“She’s definitely one of the top favourites,” said Vos, who beat Armitstead, 25, to the Olympic title at London 2012.

“She’s had a great season. I was aware of what she was capable of before this season, but this season she showed she can be at a top level for a whole year. She has good chances.”

If successful, Armitstead would become the fourth British female to win the world champion’s rainbow jersey after Beryl Burton (1960 and 1967), Mandy Jones (1982) and Cooke (2008).

Armitstead is without Emma Pooley, who was a key figure in the Glasgow 2014 race and retired after claiming silver.

The 25-year-old from Otley leads the six-rider British team, which also includes two-time junior world champion Lucy Garner, Hannah Barnes, Anna Christian, Annie Last and Alice Barnes.