Lizzie Armitstead is hoping to celebrate her contract extension with Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team by winning the prestigious Tour of Flanders race on Sunday.
The Otley rider announced the new deal today, which ties her to the Netherlands-based international outfit until the end of 2016.
And having retained the leader’s jersey in the Women’s World Cup after finishing second in the de Trofeo Alfredo Binda in Italy last week, Armitstead is hoping to maintain her good form in Belgium at the weekend.
The Tour of Flanders is widely considered the biggest women’s one-day race outside the Olympics or World Championships and doubles as the third leg of the World Cup.
Armitstead said: “It’s the cobbles, the traditional spring Belgian weather, bad conditions and one of the longest races on the calendar.
“To be able to say you’ve won the Tour of Flanders? That means you’re a hard bike rider.
“It’s always the tough girls that win it.”
The 25-year-old, who won the first World Cup race in Drenthe two weeks ago, came close to a second victory with another good ride in Italy. The difference with winner Emma Johansson was marginal and both riders were given the same time of 3hrs 05min 24 sec.
Burley-in-Wharfedale rider Scott Thwaites is also due to compete in the Tour of Flanders men’s race tomorrow.
He experienced a painful end to his first World Tour outing, needing hospital treatment for a cut arm after crashing in the first of the year’s Cobbled Classics at Gent-Wevelgen in Belgium.
Three more of his NetApp-Endura team-mates also hit the ground and Thwaites, who is also set to line up in the Tour of Scheldeprijs on Wednesday, said: “I was really enjoying it and felt good until the crash took me out.
“As a team we were riding really strongly and ideally positioned in the final stages, so it’s sad that we didn’t get the rewards.”
Meanwhile, Keighley’s Tom Moses enhanced his reputation with an 18th place finish in the Tour of Normandy.
The 21-year-old not only won the first stage of the Europe Tour event but led the race for three days before he was thwarted by a strong crosswind on the final stage that split the field.
Moses earned praise from his Rapha Condor JLT manager John Herety, who said: “Tom is a big talent and he worked really hard in Australia over the winter, so he has hit the ground running.”