Road World Championships: Lizzie Armitstead plays down chances of road race glory
Lizzie Armitstead has played down her chances of winning the women's road race world title in Tuscany.
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 28/09/13 3:23pm
The 24-year-old Yorkshire rider will lead a four-strong Great Britain team on a 140km route starting in the spa town of Montecatini Terme and ending with five laps of a 16.6km circuit around Florence.
Armitstead, who is the current Olympic silver medallist and British champion, enters the race in good form having finished third in the Boels Ladies Tour stage race earlier this month.
However, each finishing circuit contains two climbs - one 4.3km long and averaging 5.2 per cent in gradient, the other 600m long but with a maximum gradient of 16 per cent - and Armitstead fears the two tests will place the advantage in the hands of pure climbers.
"Whether I will be able to keep up with the top climbers, I am not sure," she told Sky Sports. "I would be happy with top 10 really. Maybe I am just a bit scared by the course because the circuits are pretty tough.
"There is a 4km climb and then a 600m, 16 per cent climb, so it is definitely about making sure you have the right gearing on your bike.
"It is going to be very hard. They always say this about world championships, but this is the hardest course in years."
Armitstead won her silver medal at the Olympic Games last summer by infiltrating a late breakaway and then sprinting to second place behind the all-conquering Dutch rider Marianne Vos, who is the reigning world champion and is heavily fancied to regain her title.
With the worlds course unsuited to her all-round style, Armitstead believes her best chance of victory is to attempt a similar escape.
She added: "With it not being ideally suited towards me and not really having had my strongest season, perhaps people might overlook me, which could work to my advantage.
"Maybe the other nations will overlook Great Britain and concentrate on each other rather than us, so there might be a bit of room to sneak away."
Armitstead is joined in the British team by Katie Colclough, Nikki Harris and double junior world champion Lucy Garner.
She believes the riders she must overcome to claim the rainbow jersey will be Italians such as two-time world champion Georgia Bronzini, rather than Vos.
"I think the Italian riders will be the ones to beat," she said. "They are always incredible at the world championships. They race so well as a team, and with it being a home world championships for them, they are going to be pretty hard to beat."