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When Second is not good enough

Reading through Chloe Hosking's post-Commonwealth games blog I was struck by the massive regard that the Aussie team have for Lizzie Armitstead and how they felt the need to commit their whole team to trying to beat her:

''We had gone into the race with the clear objective of trying to isolate Lizzie Armitstead. She has been, next to Marianne Vos, the stand out rider of the season and we knew that we didn’t have one individual rider who could match her, but we did have a team.

With that in mind we made our tactic clear from the start; we attacked. One rider would go, and then another until – we hoped – the elastic band would break and we would have a rider away.....

In the end, as we had known, Lizzie was just too good. She launched herself out of small group of seven on the second last climb of the day and rode solo to the line to become Commonwealth Champion.''

In the immediate aftermath of that Commonwealth Games Road Race victory Lizzie commented how pleased she was to win because she was sick and tired of coming second and third.

I guess it's not that strange to hear the very best sports stars never seem satisfied and are always pushing themselves to do better but we'd suggest that there are not too many riders who would not want to swap their 2014 Palmares for Lizzie's even at this stage of the season.

On th eve of the final round of the World Cup, GP de Plouay (where we know Lizie will stand on top of the podium for the overall prize) we thought we'd have a quick recount on Pro Cycling Stats and totted up her podiums to date. We count 24 - this includes classification jerseys, and the Thuringen Rundfahrt points jersey missing form PCS. So the World Cup winner will step onto the podium for the 25th time at least on Saturday(C'mon Lizzie - let's have another win!)

That's some run. Besides the Commonwealth Games, other highlights include wins at Ronde Van Drenthe and Tielt-Winge. These two wins were part of a brilliant 5 days of racing and 5 podiums in March. Lizzie's other win was Stage 1 of Thuringen Rhundfahrt - a stage race were Lizzie was on 5 stage podiums, was second on GC and won the points as well as mountains jersey. Not a bad weeks work!!

This also doesn't take into account 'smaller' events such as Lizzie's third at the Prudential Grand Prix, and even though we would happily debate them, we'll not go into those 'what if' situations such as a puncture in the Thuringen prologue and crashing at La Course

Suffice to say that Lizzie is the very model of consistency, whatever the weather and whatever the event. So far this year we make it 25 podiums from only 39 days of racing which is pretty epic. In comparison the leading man on PCS is Valeverde - who currently has 25 from 60 days of racing(this includes his Vuelta Stage 6 victory) and Marianne Vos has about 40 from 40 days of racing (Classification jerseys figure heavily!)

Yet what is great about Lizzie is that for all her success you can tell she wants more. She's not going to settle for second and as she's still only 25 why should she? Her best years are ahead of her and with women's racing generally providing many close finishes there's an obvious case that the odd 'marginal gain' would deliver many more visits to the top step. Even with the Vos factor we'd guess that there's is no 'let's settle for second' mindset from Lizzie. A comparison with 2013 is also worth looking at  - 54 race days gave Lizzie 11 podium visits - roughly a 20% return. 64% return so far in 2014 shows a massive improvement and points to unlimited possibilities in the future.

Next year when we comment on this we'll not at all be surprised if we using 'winning' more then we use 'consistency'.

 

Chloe Hosking's blog is well worth keeping an eye on and is regularly updated. Check it out here chloehosking.wordpress.com