British champion Lizzie Armitstead is among the favourites to win the women's road race at the upcoming UCI World Championships in Virginia, USA.
Armitstead won silver at the 2012 London Olympics when she finished second to Dutch rider Marianne Vos on a course that took in Box Hill on Surrey.
However, Vos will miss this year's championships in the USA and Armitstead is well placed to take advantage.
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After suffering a nasty crash in the Women's Tour in the UK earlier this year, Armitstead recovered quickly to win the British National Championships. She also won the overall World Cup competition in August by amassing the highest number of points over a season of racing.
Earlier this month, Armitstead announced her engagement to Irish Team Sky rider Philip Deignan.
Plenty of competition
However, the Olympic silver medallist is still cautious about the race despite the absence of Vos. In a recent interview with Cycling Weekly, she stated: "“It’ll be an exciting year for the worlds without Marianne there because the Dutch team are almost neutralised by her presence".
“You know they’ll always be working for her and they have such a strong team that there’s now nine potential Dutch winners this year.”
One of those riders is Armitstead's teammate on the Boels-Doeman squad Ellen van Dijk. Sprinter Kirsten Wild is another highly ranked favourite but the race may prove challenging for her type of finish.
Belgian's Jolien D'Hoore, who led the World Cup competition for a time this year, also represents a significant danger. Italian, and former World Champion, Giorgia Bronzini and her compatriot Elisa Longo Borghini could also pose a threat on a strong team.
Lisa Brennauer is another strong contender from Germany whilst Emma Johansson will lead the Swedish team. American rider Megan Guarnier will be leading the race for the USA squad on home soil.
It will certainly be a tough race for Armitstead but she has a track record of performing under pressure at the highest level. With a strong team and good form on the day, she will believe that anything is possible.