MUM-TO-be Lizzie Deignan says the prospect of being crowned world champion for the second time, on home roads, will spur her return to elite-level cycling.
The Otley-born rider announced last week she and husband Philip Deignan are expecting their first child in September. Deignan will not ride this season, but intends to compete next year and take a place on the start line when the World Championships hit Yorkshire’s roads in the autumn of 2019.
A speaker at Welcome to Yorkshire’s tourism show Y18 at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford yesterday, Deignan told The Yorkshire Post: “It could not be better motivation to come back, knowing that is just around the corner.
“I think it is going to be a different challenge and a difficult challenge, but having that as a motivation certainly makes it easier.”
Deignan also has the 2020 Olympic Games, in Tokyo, in her sights before she retires in two years’ time. She insisted: “Countless athletes have come back to elite level sport after having a baby. Kristin Armstrong, the Olympic time trial champion, has done it and Paula Radcliffe won the New York Marathon six months after giving birth.
“Physically, it is possible. The other things that come with having a baby are the challenge, but the Yorkshire Worlds will be the biggest event I will probably ever take part in and I am expecting it to be a similar atmosphere and feeling to London 2012.”
Deignan will not defend the ASDA Women’s Tour de Yorkshire crown she won last year in the expanded two-day event on May 4 and 5. However, she insists the race will continue to thrive without her. The women’s prize money is more than that available to the men, who cover twice the distance and Deignan described it as a “huge event” on the calendar.
“It is one everyone wants to win,” she said. “It is a prestigious race, the prize money, the organisation and the approach to the event are so professional.
“It is setting a precedent for how it should be. I am proud my home race is one of the best in the world.”
The prospects of the World Championships in the county next year will add spice to next month’s race. Deignan said: “As a rider, the World Championship is what you dream of winning.
It is setting a precedent for how it should be. I am proud my home race is one of the best in the world.Lizzie Deignan
“It will definitely not be far from competitors’ minds, the fact they will be riding on roads that will be used in the worlds and with crowds that will be there for the Worlds. When we ride in Europe, we are used to crowds, but when we come here it is something else. It finishes close to home this year, on the Cow and Calf and I am sad to miss it, but, hopefully, I will be there to support one of my team-mates crossing the finish line first.”
Deignan’s Boels-Dolmans’ squad leads the list of 20 teams confirmed for this year’s women’s Tour de Yorkshire. Others are Ale Cipollini, Bepink Cogeas, Boompods EDCo, Canyon Sram, Drops,Experza-Footlogix, FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope, Hitec Products, Doltcini – Van Eyck Sport, Movistar, NCC Group-Kuota-Torelli, Parkhotel Valkenburg, Store, Team GB, OnForm, Jadan Weldtite, Sunweb, WNT and Wiggle High5.
Mark Cavendish’s Team Dimension Data and Team Sky headline the list of 20 teams selected for the men’s event. Other World Tour teams are Astana, BMC Racing, Katusha Alpecin and Sunweb. The start list also includes Pro Continental teams Aqua Blue Sport, Cofidis, Solutions Credits, Direct Energie, Euskadi Basque Country – Murias, Rally, Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij and Vital Concep.
Yorkshire-based Holdsworth Pro Racing are among six Continental teams, alongside Canyon Eisberg, JLT Condor, Madison Genesis, One Pro and Vitus. Team GB complete the line-up.