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Deignan hoping 'home advantage' will propel her to rainbow jersey at Yorkshire Worlds

Lizzie Armitstead quest for Rio
Joe Robinson
19 Sep 2019

Local knowledge could be difference for Deignan as she races for second-career World Title

Lizzie Deignan believes the pressure of being home favourite at the World Championships in Yorkshire next week can help spur her to a second-career rainbow jersey.

The Otley-native will lead the Great Britain elite women’s team in the road race on Saturday 28th September. Starting in Bradford and finishing in with three laps of the circuit in Harrogate, the 149km race will pass through Otley and past Deignan’s childhood home.

This home advantage has seen expectation placed on Deignan to put in a good performance, but she believes the biggest pressure will be self-imposed with the 30-year-old realising the unique opportunity Harrogate presents.

‘There’s definitely more pressure, no doubt about it, but it’s probably more for myself,’ Deignan told Cyclist.

‘It’s an amazing opportunity that not many athletes get in their career. I got to race at a home Olympics which was amazing but this is more special. The race goes past my parents' back garden. It goes down the road I walked to school down as a kid.’

Deignan believes that while a home race ups the pressure it should also be to her advantage with her knowing the course better than anyone in the race.

‘I know the roads better than anybody and I will have the home crowd behind me,’ said Deignan. ‘It’s an undulating course and I will know when the next bump is over or the next technical section is approaching which gives me an advantage on everyone else.’

The pressure of a home World Championships is not the only hurdle Deignan has been facing, however. The Trek-Segafredo rider became a mum for the first time in 2018 giving birth to her daughter, Orla. She missed the entire 2018 season of racing, only returning to action at the Amstel Gold Race this April.

Since returning, Deignan has been balancing life between motherhood and being a professional athlete which she admits is something that is pretty tough to master.

‘I look back to those sleep-deprived early months and actually, for recovery, it was ok because Orla would just lay in my arms when I got back from training,’ said Deignan.

‘But it’s a constant balancing act and the biggest thing I have learned is that a baby changes so much. One week we think we are on top of things then suddenly Orla will learn to talk or do something new which resets the boundaries.

‘Now she’s almost one, she is trying to crawl everywhere and climb everything. It makes recovery a lot harder once you get back from a ride. It's an evolving balancing act and going into next year, I've learned a lot I will tweak and change.'

Managing a professional cycling career with a one-year-old also forces riders into reconsidering how they approach races. Deignan will be travelling over to Yorkshire a week early in order to settle in their Harrogate home and give her the opportunity to taper her training before the race.

Dutch dominance

Another barrier that stands in the way of Deignan’s home success is the all-conquering Dutch team.

Looking to secure a third-successive road race and time -rial double, the Dutch road team will contain defending champion Anna van der Breggen, 2018 champion Chantal Blaak, two-time champion Marianne Vos and current time-trial World Champion Anniemiek van Vleuten.

Such is the strength in depth of the Dutch team, the world’s number one ranked women’s rider Lorena Wiebes has been left out of the squad.

Deignan believes Wiebes’s omission is a statement of intent but also believes a roster stacked with such talent could present its opportunities for Deignan and other rivals.

'With Lorena Wiebes not being selected, it tells me they want to race aggressively rather than protecting a sprinter,’ states Deignan.

‘To be honest, a more negative race would likely see Wiebes make the finish and she would be the clear favourite. But her non-selection tells me they are going down the Van Vleuten or Van der Breggen route.

‘Although that team meeting will be an interesting one and I’m not sure how the team manager is going to manage expectations. I think since Chantal Blaak won the Worlds it has made it harder. She wasn't the favourite of the Dutch team but she capitalised on an opportunity that she committed to.

‘Every rider in their team is in with a chance so managing expectations is going to be very difficult.’

Great Britain elite women’s team for the UCI World Championships

Road race

Lizzie Deignan
Alice Barnes
Hannah Barnes
Lizzie Banks
Nikki Juniper
Anna Henderson

Time-trial

Alice Barnes
Hayley Simmonds

Lizzie Deignan is an ambassador for the Cycle Expo Yorkshire. For more, visit the website here.