Lizzie Armitstead targets Tour of Flanders and world and national titles in 2013
By Matt Westby - follow @MattSkyCycling. Last Updated: 21/01/13 11:03am
Lizzie Armitstead: Keen to build on her Olympic success
Lizzie Armitstead has set her sights on winning both the world and national road race titles in 2013 as she looks to build on her success at last summer's Olympic Games.
The 24-year-old claimed Great Britain's first medal of London 2012 with a dramatic second-place finish in the women's road race in what was the undoubted highlight of her career so far.
But the Yorkshire rider is keen for it not to be her only taste of glory on the global stage and hopes to accrue further honours over the next 12 months.
Top of her list is becoming world champion on a mountainous course in Florence, Italy, at the end of September, while regaining the British title on the same Glasgow route that will be used for the 2014 Commonwealth Games is another priority.
Armitstead also harbours ambitions of adding to her palmares in team colours, with the Tour of Flanders at the end of March highest on her agenda.
She told Sky Sports: "Flanders is my spring target and the national road race is also a big one because it is on the Commonwealth Games course, so that's important to show that I am strong on that kind of terrain.
"Then there are the worlds - they are my three main goals. The world championship is the pinnacle - it's the biggest race.
"The national title would mean a lot. I have won it once before [in 2011], but I am very keen to get it back. There is something very different about wearing a national jersey. It makes you stand out."
Although elated by events in London, Armitstead admits she is relieved to be heading into a new year free from the pressure of a home Olympic Games.
But after pushing the all-conquering Dutch rider Marianne Vos close on her way to winning silver, she realises her new-found status in the peloton may bring added expectation.
"Last year, I didn't really think about results apart from the Olympics," she said. "All I was focused on was one thing, whereas now, because of that result, everyone sees me as maybe a leader in the team and so I feel more responsibility to get consistent results.
"So although there is no Olympics this year, for me it doesn't get any easier.
"I think I will be a marked rider now. Things will change quite a lot. It's daunting, but it's also a good thing because I feel pressure in my training, which I need. I need to have that extra motivation.
"I am happy to leave 2012 behind. It was an amazing year, but I am ready to have a bit more routine back and settle back into doing what got me into this position in the first place."
Armitstead's preparations for the 2013 season have been hampered on two fronts, with the media attention that followed her Olympic success being compounded by having to move teams for the second successive year.
She is now riding for professional Dutch squad Dolmans-Boels following the folding of her former outfit, AA Drink-Leontien.nl, and is keen for the for the season to get started so that she can gauge her current condition.
"It was obviously a very hectic off-season for me, so I almost started training tired in a way," she explained. "But I'm starting to come around now and feel a little bit more like myself.
"I am training really hard and am eager just to get racing so that I know where I am and whether I need to do more or less.
"I am getting used to starting the season with new teams. I have ridden for Dutch teams quite a lot and know the language well now and a lot of the riders too, so I'm really pleased.
"They are a nice group of people and ambitious, which is good."
The UCI women's road racing season starts next week with the Ladies' Tour of Qatar, from Wednesday, January 30, to Friday, February 1.
Armitstead spoke to Sky Sports in Bradford, where she was meeting cyclists from Breeze, the local authority's joint initiative with British Cycling to get more women and juniors on their bikes. Four-hundred women have taken part in organised rides in the last 18 months in the city.