Deignan feel­ing pres­sure for home win

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By John Macleary

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.

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