Armitstead desperate to regain title

Lizzie Armitstead is eager to successfully defend her British Championships road race title in Ampleforth on Sunday as she bids to strengthen her case to be team leader at the Olympic Games.

The 23-year-old from Otley is set to ride in her first Olympics after being confirmed in the four-rider squad alongside 2008 Games champion Nicole Cooke, Emma Pooley and Lucy Martin.

Cooke won nine successive British titles before Pooley triumphed in 2010 and Armitstead in 2011.

The Yorkshirewoman is looking to prevail once more in her home county after winning in Stamfordham, Northumberland last year.

"Every nationals means a lot to me. I'm defending the jersey as well so it's a bit more pressure, I suppose," Hornby ambassador Armitstead said.

"I'm feeling in good shape. I've not seen the course, so I'm not sure how testing it will be and whether any of the climbs are long enough for Emma to get away. I'm fairly confident. I'm hoping it will be a select group again and I can hopefully win the sprint."

Armitstead insists her public spat with Cooke after last September's World Championships is firmly in the past.

She was nominated team leader but after a disappointing result accused Cooke of riding "for herself".

Armitstead admits her tenacity and self-confidence will likely mean she is expected to deliver come July 29 on The Mall if selected as leader ahead of Cooke, but she believes internal competition is a big plus.

"In many people's minds they'll probably expect more," she added. "I suppose I've put myself in that position by the problems we've had in the media. If you've got more domestic competition then you're going to get higher results in international competition. Healthy rivalry is a good thing."