Lizzie Armitstead plays down row with Nocole Cooke

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Lizzie Armitstead Lizzie Armitstead

Lizzie Armitstead believes her outspoken criticism of British team-mate Nicole Cooke will prove beneficial to the team in the long run.

The 22-year-old Olympic hopeful insists there will be no ill feeling as the fight to lead the country’s road race team intensifies, despite her criticism of Cooke in last year’s World Championships.

Armitstead had to settle for seventh in Copenhagen after crashing while Cooke, the 2008 world and Olympic champion, came fourth.

The Yorkshirewoman later confronted her Welsh team-mate and publicly accused her of “riding for herself”.

The pair are now vying to lead the British team at this summer’s London Games and while Armitstead’s comments have intensified the battle, she has no regrets about speaking out.

She said: ““Nicole and I aren’t best mates but we can definitely be professional colleagues with each other.

“I have a lot of respect for her as an athlete.

“It’s something I’ve learned from – that things do get blown out of proportion – but I stand by what I said and I’m happy I said it because it has brought the issue out and I think we’ll be a better team for it.”

Armitstead admits the pair will never be firm friends but insists they can maintain a working relationship.

“We’ve had a conversation and it’s behind us,” she said.

“I’m sure the media would love us to have a grudge match all the way until the Games but it’s just not the way it is.”

Armitstead also has September’s World Championships in Holland in mind.

In 2008, Cooke achieved the rare double of Olympic and world titles.

However, Armitstead is planning to sacrifice personal glory for the good of the team in that competition by riding in support of team-mate Emma Pooley.

“The World Championships are not my main focus to be honest because they are in Holland and they finish on the top of a very steep climb, which suits Emma Pooley perfectly,” she explained.

“I want to be the leader at the Olympics on the London course because I believe it is perfectly suited to me and I think the Worlds course is perfectly suited to Emma, so without a doubt I’ll be working for Emma there.

“I’m totally confident that Emma is a team player, and I am as well.

“I would definitely work with someone if they had a better chance than me and I think on that course, Emma will do.”

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