sport

Rowsell excited by TT defence

Joanna Rowsell hopes her track cycling background will boost her chances of retaining the British national time trial title in Wales on Thursday.

The 25-year-old Wiggle-Honda rider claimed last year's crown with an impressive 32-second victory over runner-up Lizzie Armitstead on a largely flat 35km course in Scotland.

The 2014 race is a considerably different proposition, though, with the 20km route taking place over rolling terrain littered with short and sharp climbs.

Rowsell is not renowned as a climber, but she hopes the short distance will take the advantage away from uphill specialists and create a more open race.

She said: "I have got no idea how it is going to go because it is a very different course to last year. I am actually looking forward to that because I'm really interested to see how I do. I am usually all right on short climbs.

"I think the strongest all-rounder is going to win because it is such a tough up-and-down course. I am not putting too much pressure on myself, so I am looking forward to it."

The key to success could well be how well the riders negotiate one particular climb, which averages over ten per cent in gradient and reaches a maximum of 25 per cent.

Rowsell added: "It is similar to the finish climb in La Fleche Wallonne, the Mur du Huy. It's about 1km long and gets up to about 25 per cent.

"Because I am a track rider, we do a lot of efforts that are three to four minutes, and I think this climb is going to be about a four-minute effort, so the length of it should suit me well."

Despite talking up her chances, Rowsell accepts she is an unknown quantity on a rolling course such as Thursday's and consequently believes the favourites for victory are more established climbers such as Armitstead and two-time British time-trial champion Emma Pooley.

"I wouldn't say I am the favourite, but obviously I really want to win as the defending champion," Rowsell said.

"I think Emma Pooley and Lizzie Armitstead are the outright favourites because it suits their style."