Britain's Lizzie Armitstead has a real sense that a gold medal might well be attainable for her in Saturday's World Championships road-race - even with stand-out favourite Marianne Vos of Holland as one of her rivals.
Asked if she thought winning was possible, the 25-year-old GB team leader told a small group of reporters on Thursday, "Normally you come to these interviews and say ‘yeah, yeah, I can do it', but you don't really believe it."
"But I actually believe it this time."
Asked whether she was so upbeat because of the World's route or her race condition, Armitstead answered "Both."
"I do like the course though I would have preferred shorter, steeper climbs, but I think I can hang in there on the course's long climb."
Nineteenth last year in Firenze, Armitstead's best placing in the Worlds Road-Race is seventh in 2011, although she has captured an Olympic road-race silver medal in memorable style, too, in the pouring rain in London 2012. The Yorkshirewoman has a glittering palmares in various track Worlds, too, with five medals, including a gold in the Team Pursuit in 2009, already to her name.
Form-wise, Armitstead's 2014 season has gone very well, with victories in the Commonwealth Games road-race and in the World Cup series overall, where she won the opening round, the Ronde van Drenthe in Holland this spring.
Asked if she was motivated by her Commonwealth Games success, Armitstead answered that her victory in Scotland this summer "was a strange one because normally when you win a title you really have to fight for it, it's such a relief when you cross the line."
"But the competition there wasn't that strong, so it wasn't like I was on my knees to win that title. So it was kind of a weird anti-climax after it."
"But looking back, I do take confidence that I could take a title like that. On the big day I got it right." It was, she agreed, "Perfect team-work, Emma [Pooley] rode fantastically well and the two younger girls, Lucy [Garner] and Hannah [Barnes] are here again, so we've got part of the successful team."
Although there has been some criticism of the GB women's line-up for Ponferrada, Armitstead said "I think it's unfair."
"We're in a transition period, there aren't that many people to select the team from, the people that are complaining, I don't know what their other suggestions would have been. We've got the best of what we've got at the moment."
Regarding standout favourite Marianne Vos, whose form does not seem to be at 100 percent at the moment after she was dropped during her trade team time trial, Armitstead recognises that the Dutchwoman perhaps being easier to beat is acting as a boost to her motivation.
"Definitely. To win a World Championships you've got to beat the rest of the world, but you have got to beat Marianne Vos, unfortunately. She is the one to beat and her form hasn't been great the last couple of weeks."
"I don't think it's a show like some people have suggested. She's genuinely not in her best shape."
With Vos maybe on the back foot, Armitstead' predicts that the top candidate for gold is Pauline Ferrand-Prevot of France. Vos trade teammate was the 2014 winner of Fleche Wallone and she took third in the GP de Plouay World Cup race, too - the event that perhaps, with a fairly hilly circuit to tackle on repeated occasions, is the most similar, in terms of terrain, to Ponferrada.
"She's definitely my favourite. So I'm not going to base my race around Vos, but I'm certainly not going to take my eye off her, because she's someone who can win World Championships." However, this year, Armitstead does not see a rainbow jersey as Mission Impossible for herself, either.
You can subscribe to the Cyclingnews video channel here.
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.