The 24-year-old from Otley is seeking to reclaim the title she won in 2011 ahead of a stellar line-up on the technical 14-kilometre city centre circuit, where the women will complete eight laps (114km). Armitstead hopes to swap her orange Dolmans Boels jersey for the white jersey with blue and red bands of British champion for the next 12 months.
“I thrive on pressure,” Armitstead said. “I do better when I’m under pressure and I think, if you’ve got a national jersey on your back, you feel you have to do it justice.”
Although Armitstead, who won the first home medal of London 2012, can be considered the favourite, competition will be fierce.
There is no Nicole Cooke, the now-retired nine-time British champion and 2008 Olympic champion, and no Emma Pooley, who won in 2010 but is taking a break to complete her PhD, but there is talent aplenty in the women’s line-up.
Defending champion Sharon Laws (Lotto-Belisol), Joanna Rowsell, the newly crowned British time-trial champion and Olympic team pursuit gold medallist, two-time world junior road race champion Lucy Garner (Argos-Shimano) and Rowsell’s Wiggle Honda team-mates Laura Trott, Dani King and Elinor Barker are all in the mix.
Mark Cavendish will compete in the men’s race with one eye on the Commonwealth Games, where he will represent the Isle of Man.
The Manxman is favourite in the 13-lap men’s event, although he is yet to don the British champion’s jersey in his senior career. Defending champion Ian Stannard and multiple podium finisher Pete Kennaugh, both in Team Sky’s Tour De France squad, will look to challenge. Cavendish’s Omega Pharma-QuickStep team-mate Andy Fenn, Adam Blythe (BMC Racing), British time-trial champion Alex Dowsett (Movistar) and two-times Olympic team pursuit champion Ed Clancy (Rapha Condor JLT) are also among the 140 starters.