Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's All White for Bride-to-Be Lizzie as Her Rainbow Jerseys Make Way for a Wedding Dress

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's All White for Bride-to-Be Lizzie as Her Rainbow Jerseys Make Way for a Wedding Dress

Article excerpt

ALWAYS the bridesmaid, never the bride. Lizzie Armitstead forever bemoaned being a habitual runner-up and her medal cabinet full of silvers. But in 2015, both on and off the bike, she has escaped being the eternal bridesmaid, writes Matt Majendie.

An essentially perfect ride at September's World Championships led to her first rainbow jersey while her boyfriend Philip Deignan, a Team Sky rider, had proposed to her in the lead-up to that career-defining race in Richmond, Virginia.

Riding on the roads near the couple's Monaco apartment in her prestigious jersey "I'd sleep in it if I could," she says, only partly joking it is a magnet for attention as she flits between France and Italy on her mountainous rides. Shouts of "champion du monde" regularly greet her, which she believes she will never tire of despite the weight of expectation heading into an Olympic year.

"I actually feel less pressure with it as the monkey's off my back," she says. "I finally got the big win. People think I'd feel this extra pressure but it's much less. I feel like I've nothing to prove any more but I do feel motivated to do the jersey justice."

This does not mean the 26-year-old is about to rest on her laurels. Asked about her target for next season, the same answer is never far from her lips "it's all about Rio". With a wardrobe full of rainbow jerseys and an engagement ring on her finger, she readily admits this is the happiest she has ever felt and argues that life with Deignan has made her a better cyclist.

"The day after our engagement we went out on our bikes and I got a huge PB in my 10-minute power output," says Armitstead, who remarkably remains uncoached out of choice.

"It's about being confident and happy and Phil's encouragement has made me more confident on the bike."

The engagement was totally out of the blue, Deignan giving no hint of nerves as he got down on one knee. …

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