London 2012 Olympic stars enjoy Great Manchester Cycle as thousands turn out in force

By Rebecca Pocklington

London 2012 hopeful Lizzie Armistead and Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Romero took a break to enjoy the 52-mile cycle ride at Sportcity on Monday.

The Daily Mirror Great Manchester Cycle reached its maximum capacity of 7,000 and many more came along to support the participants in the sun around the Etihad Stadium.

Both athletes expressed their support of the event and said how well it had been organised to give people a chance to experience cycling in a city centre safely.

Rebecca, who won a gold medal in rowing and is currently training for her triathlon, said: “This event is so great because it’s a big sporting event but it has closed roads and that’s unique.”

She said that the event was more for enjoyment for her, a break away from training and a chance to cycle on 13 miles of closed roads.

She added: “For other people who might do it recreationally, to have this kind of structured event with a timing chip and to have the route mapped out, people will use that opportunity to test themselves.”

Lizzie agreed with her riding companion, saying that it’s just a day she can enjoy riding her bike, which is not something she can do that often.

She said: “It’s my job at the end of the day and I push myself to perform better each day.”

The two athletes crossed the finish line first on the 52-mile event but only completed three laps (39 miles) due to their duties in the rest of the day’s proceedings.

Rebecca was the ambassador of the event, and said: “One of the privileges of my achievements and what I’ve done is that I can carry that name and have that title to be able to publicise things such as this.”

Lizzie, who is a top hopeful for this year’s Olympics, said she was preparing by training to her maximum ability, her method of racing ahead until right before an event like that works for her.

Lizzie opened the 26-mile race and supported all the keen riders passing the start line, and Rebecca did the same for the 13-mile later in the day.

“When you have these different waves of ability, it means it really opens up the opportunity to new riders,” Rebecca said.

“I’m now going full circle to when I started out doing sports. It’s away from this elite, top-end, and must win gold medals approach I had before. It’s a lot less pressure.”

Rebecca said she made a smooth transition from rowing to cycling, stopping one and swiftly starting the other.

She added: “People say to me, do you still get in to a rowing boat? I just think well I’m a full-time athlete, when I’m not training specifically for my sport I don’t do any other activities.”

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