Despite Lizzie Deignan not being able to defend her title at this year’s Tour de Yorkshire due to pregnancy, she’ll still be up close and personal to all the action, covering the women’s race with ITV4. So, who better to provide us with some exclusive insight on the exciting race ahead? We sat down with Lizzie to talk favourites, steep climbs and Yorkshire passion…
Are you looking forward to covering all of the action of the women’s race with ITV4? And is there anything about covering it you’re most looking forward to?
I can’t wait to cover the race with ITV4, it’s something that I’ve never done before so I’m looking forward to trying something new. Also, seeing how the riders race from the sidelines will be really interesting, and hopefully I can use that information when they become my rivals again.
Who are the riders to watch in the women’s race?
For me, the cyclists to watch would be many of my Boels-Dolmans teammates. I think Anna Van der Breggen, Megan Guarnier and Karol-Ann Canuel are a super strong trio and I have a feeling Megan will be looking for her first victory of the season.
The fourth edition of the race has seen it gain an extra day in both the women’s and the men’s event, how will this affect the riders’ approach?
The extra day will mean that the women’s race is now a stage race, so the tactics become quite different. Everybody on the team will go into the race protecting the girl that can win on the second day rather than just thinking about the first sprint.
Which of the stages do you think will be the most challenging to the riders and why?
I would definitely say that Friday’s stage will be the most challenging – it finishes at the Cow and Calf in Ilkley. I know that climb very well and it’s extremely difficult, especially as there’ll be no traffic on it. Usually, when you’re riding alongside traffic you get a couple of stops along the way – with closed roads it’ll be an awfully long climb.
Which part of the race would you be looking forward to the most this year if you were taking part?
I’d be most looking forward to riding through my hometown of Otley – it’s always special to be able to do that with the crowd cheering you on. I’m really sad I won’t be able to do that this year.
What do you think the reason is for the Tour de Yorkshire’s success and growth? Is it due to the increase of people getting into cycling in recent years or has Yorkshire always been yearning for a Tour on its soil?
I think as a community, Yorkshire really gets behind any event – whether it’s a sporting or community event, everyone has a really enthusiastic attitude. That plays a massive part in the popularity of this event, as well as cycling in Yorkshire being really popular as a whole.
What advice would you give the cyclists who are tackling the Yorkshire roads?
My advice to cyclists tackling the Yorkshire roads would be to pace yourself – people often make the mistake of setting off too fast. The terrain is quite relentless, and it really does catch up with you!
And finally, for the visiting riders, which of Yorkshire’s food specialities would you recommend they try once they’ve finished the race?
I think once they’ve finished the race they’ll have certainly earned a Yorkshire pudding or two!
Catch Lizzie’s full coverage on ITV4, if you’re watching the race, let us know your highlights and thoughts in the comments below!