British Cycling and the British Olympic Association have confirmed the final team of four women that will contest the Olympic road race in London on Sunday 29 July, with two of them also taking part in the individual time trial three days later on Wednesday 4 August.
The team includes current Olympic champion Nicole Cooke as well as the woman many see as Britain’s best hope in this year’s race, Lizzie Armitstead. Former world time trial champion Emma Pooley and Lucy Martin complete the quartet.
“Narrowing down the women’s road team from six riders to four wasn’t an easy decision for the selectors to make, but we believe that the four riders we have selected will give us the best opportunity of winning the race,” commented British Cycling Performance Director Dave Brailsford.
Missing out from the initial squad of six initially announced earlier this month are Katie Colclough and Sharon Laws.
The inclusion of the 22-year-old Martin, a team mate of Armitstead and Pooley’s at Garmin-Cervelo, dissolved at the end of last season with all three making the switch to AA Drink–leontien.nl, more or less confirms that Armitstead, for whom she acts as leadout, will be the protected British rider in the road race.
"I’m really excited to have been selected for my first Olympic Games, it’s a massive honour and I am so proud to be part of Team GB at a home Games,” said Martin.
“I’m prepared to give everything I’ve got and just cannot wait to race now in front of a home crowd around the streets of London,” she added.
After last year’s world championships in Copenhagen, Armitstead sparked a war of words accused Cooke of riding for herself, not the team, although the feud between them goes back more than a year before that, with Cooke criticising the Garmin contingent of using team tactics in the 2010 and 2011 national championships, won respectively by Pooley and Armsitstead.
The pair patched things up earlier this year, and today Cooke, who could herself provide an option for Great Britain should the race get broken up on the two circuits of Box Hill, said she would do “everything I can to deliver a gold medal for our team,” adding, “we have a set of riders with real potential and I am looking forward to playing my part in delivering that gold."
While Cooke has struggled to recapture the form that brought her both the Olympic and world championships in 2008, Armistead, at 23 six years her junior and a former multiple world champion on the track, has continued to produce a set of impressive victories on the road including this year’s Gent Wevelgem.
Armitstead will join Pooley in the individual time trial and the latter, who won the world championship in that discipline at Geelong in 2010, said: I’m looking forward to concentrating on my training now to ensure that I am in the best shape possible for the 29th July and 1st August.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.