Lizzie Armitstead has dispelled rumours that she is planning to retire after the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year, saying she loves the job too much to leave while she's in good shape.
Speaking at a ceremony in London last night, where the newly-crowned World Road Race Champion was presented with her Custom Specialized S-Works Amira, Armitstead said she won the Richmond road race without a computer, knowing everything about the course and the effort needed. She also told road.cc she is skeptical about disc brakes in the pro peloton and their potential for crashes.
The Boels-Dolmans rider confirmed that as well as a gold medal in Rio, she hopes to win the notoriously tough Tour of Flanders, admitting she enjoys suffering on the bike, and that where in previous off-seasons she used the gym daily, now she is under strict instructions to rest.
She said: "This is going to be the biggest challenge of my career this winter [training for Rio] and I have to go into it fresh and chomping at the bit. I'm very eager to get going. "
"Rio is the ultimate goal, definitely."
"I managed to get the Commonwealth title, the National title, the World title, so I need to complete the set."
Since winning silver at the London 2012 Olympics Armitstead's dream has been to become Olympic champion; she jokes it rolls off the tongue more smoothly than silver medallist at the Olympic Games.
Another one on the career goal list is to win her favourite race, the notoriously tough Tour of Flanders.
She said: "I definitely just love something about that race...it's notoriously bad weather and it's a hard race, and I like that."
"I enjoy suffering, weirdly, it makes me feel alive, and I miss that feeling. I've had four weeks off the bike and I feel like a slob, I hate it."
Where, in longer races like Flanders, on-bike computers are a necessity, those more eagle-eyed viewers of Armitstead's Richmond win may have noticed she wasn't carrying one when she crossed the line a world champion.
She said: "Something like Flanders, where I know that the Paterberg is 110k and I need to know [that] specifically, I'll have a computer then, but if it's laps I don't use it. I don't look at my power or speed or anything like that.
"For Richmond I had a strategy, and it was eight laps, and I knew that I was going to make my move on the last lap and I didn't need a computer to tell me that."
She said: "I knew the course inside out. I remember training on the lap with the Boels Dolmans girls before we did the TTT and I knew everything about it. I knew where the potholes were, I knew the best line on the cobbles and I realised I was probably giving away too much because they're on different teams in the road race!"
"Christine [Majerus], my team mate, came up to me and said 'you're going to win the road race, you know it better than anyone'."
"I'd thought about that course every single day since June and in training I knew that I needed to do three repeated efforts followed by a sprint so every single day I did that in training and I knew, going into it, that I'd prepared better."
When asked by road.cc of her thoughts on disc brakes in the pro peloton, Armitstead admitted she rode her first bike with disc brakes last week - a mountain bike with her niece in the trailer.
She says: "That's a little bit of a worry in the pro peloton if everybody has sharp, fast brakes because it's going to cause crashes, I think, if people are risking it and waiting later to brake into corners, but do I care either way? Not really, I'll ride what I'm given!"
Asked about the circulating rumours she will retire next year, a question she was repeatedly asked this year, despite only being 26, Armitstead said: "That was one interview that spiralled out of control. A journalist asked me what I'm going to do after 2016, and it seemed to come up in all my interviews.
"I said two options: either I'll continue, or maybe I'll retire and start a family, just off the cuff like that, and suddenly I was retiring!"
"I really don't know what I'm going to do. I think if I become Olympic champion and I've been World Champion and I've won the Tour of Flanders, then every goal is ticked, but I think it will be hard to walk away from the dream job, and while I'm still good I couldn't see myself thinking that this winter is my last winter of training, I just like it too much at the moment.
She said: "I get to do my hobby for my job, I grew up watching my dad go into his job every day and hate it, and I appreciate that he made a sacrifice for our family. I thought: 'if I get the opportunity to do something I love then I'll grab it with both hands', and I do."
"It's not every day that I love it, but being outside is just the best, being outside every day challenging myself, suffering."