Deignan feeling pressure for home win
It is doubtful that many before Lizzie Deignan will have contested a Road World Championships so close to home. Certainly not as a contender for the coveted rainbow jersey. That she is, though. Not that you would know from her relaxed demeanour.
“I’m not thinking about that much, honestly,” said the Yorkshirewoman before arguably the biggest race of her career. “I’m just trying to embrace the World Championships.
“Normally, I wouldn’t watch races, I’d stay in my room and not do too much, but I’ve kind of taken a different approach this time. Soaking it up and enjoying the atmosphere, just enjoying it.”
The well-documented fact that Deignan, 30, has returned to competitive racing following the birth of her first child is a storyline that has been almost impossible to ignore. Unlike when she won the 2015 title in Richmond, Virginia, the build-up to today’s race – the brutish 150-kilometre run from Bradford to Harrogate – has been very different, not just for
Target: Lizzie Deignan is seeking a second world road title after her success in 2015 Deignan, but for her friends and family, too.
“Normally for them the worlds build-up is maybe the night before, they’ll give me a ring and say ‘Good luck tomorrow’,” she said, before adding there is “more pressure than normal”.
It is a pressure Deignan, who is leading Great Britain’s six-woman team in an effort to emulate Mandy Jones’s 1982 feat as the only British cyclist to win a world road title on home soil, is embracing.
However, Deignan must first work out how to see off, among others, a team she calls a “powerhouse”. With three former world road champions – Marianne Vos, Anna van der Breggen and Chantal Blaak – in their starting line-up the Dutch are, without question, the ones to beat.
“I don’t think we match them in terms of our team strength,” Deignan said. “I think they are our biggest challenge.”
The championships conclude tomorrow with the 285km men’s road race from Leeds to Harrogate, an event that is expected to be won by a puncheur, a rider in the style of Holland’s Mathieu van der Poel, the Belgian Philippe Gilbert or Slovakia’s three-time world champion Peter Sagan.