It has been announced today that Lizzie Deignan will race in next month’s Tour de Yorkshire – just seven months after giving birth!
Lizzie, an Olympic silver medallist, National Road Race Champion and Cycleplan’s ambassador, sat down with us to chat about her 2019 racing schedule.
You’ve announced your competition schedule for the year. How do you feel about getting back into competition?
I’m really excited and positive. It’s been a long time since I’ve raced, so I’m obviously nervous, but I’m itching to get going now.
What are you most looking forward to this season?
Definitely the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire. It’s going to be very emotional racing in my homeland.
What do you think will be your greatest challenges?
Balancing home life with professional cycling will be difficult. Spending time away from Orla will probably be my biggest challenge mentally. Physically, my biggest challenge is being a professional athlete at a time when women’s cycling is growing year on year. It’s getting harder all the time and winning races against some of these amazing competitors is a massive challenge.
How are things going with your new team?
So far, so good. I’ve not got any complaints – the team has exceeded my expectations and the support I received from them during my maternity leave was incredible. Their level of professionalism in terms of support going forward has been exemplary and I have everything I need to train at my best level.
How has training for competitions changed since the arrival of Orla?
It hasn’t, to be honest. It’s as intense and demanding as it ever has been. I took longer to build up my base mileage than I have in previous seasons due to post-paternity and the recovery process involved, but aside from that, my training hasn’t really changed.
What are your goals for the season?
To become world champion!
It’s very impressive that you’re riding in the Tour de Yorkshire, just over seven months after giving birth. Has that always been the plan?
No, absolutely not! The plan was to start racing in June at the earliest, but training has gone really well and I’ve been surprised at every turn so I thought, why not? I’ve been lucky with Orla, in that she’s sleeping through the night and things are going well, so hopefully that can continue.
What do you think about the route?
I really like the route and it’s definitely challenging. It has something for every cyclist, and I think it’ll encourage an aggressive form of racing, which suits me. I’m excited to race at the Tour de Yorkshire and what tempted me to ride earlier than originally planned is that this event incorporates the route for the World Championship.
What’s most challenging about the route and what are you most looking forward to about it?
The most challenging aspect of the route could potentially be the fact that the Tour de Yorkshire is a staged race and I don’t know how my body will recover between the two stages. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a stage race and they’ve never been my speciality, so I’m hoping that I can back up after day one. I’m most looking forward to the home crowd and seeing their reaction. I can’t wait to race in front of them.
Tell us about the climbs on the route?
They’re difficult! They’re typical Yorkshire climbs, particularly the climb up out of Robin Hood’s Bay. That’s a steep climb which my husband raced a couple of years ago. I will definitely do a reconnaissance of that route so I’ll know as much as I can about it going into the race, which will hopefully prove an advantage.
Do you feel added pressure to succeed with the Tour de Yorkshire and UCI World Championships all happening in your home county?
Yes, definitely. It’s undoubtedly going to be a high-pressure environment because of the fact I’m from Yorkshire, but I like these kinds of environments so, the more pressure the better as far as I’m concerned.