Worlds: Deignan hopes stars will align for road race despite appendix operation

'In the back of my mind I think that anything can happen,' says GB team leader

Great Britain's Lizzie Deignan has revealed she has lost two kilos of muscle after her emergency appendix operation, but the 2015 world champion is hoping the stars will align in Bergen and give her a shot at victory in Saturday's elite women's road race.

Deignan won the GP Plouay on August 26 but was rushed to hospital in Belgium four days later for emergency surgery.

"It's three weeks since my operation now. I had 10 days of bed rest and losing two kilograms of leg muscle means my peak power is nowhere near where it was. It's taken its toll for sure," Deignan admitted after training on the Bergen road race course for the first time on Thursday.

"It was frustrating seeing the course, thinking it was perfect for me. I was hoping that you could hide on the course, but I realised it will find you out. But there's still hope. Somewhere in the back of my mind I think that anything can happen.

"I'm used to going into the World Championships or the Olympics without great preparation, its not the first time that something has set me back. Even if I'm 10 per cent less than I was, that still might be enough to do something. If I don't try, I'll never know."

Deignan appeared to refer to her difficult 2016 season and the fight against a UK Anti-Doping ban over her alleged three strikes on her anti-doping whereabouts records. That derailed her build-up to Rio Olympics but she went on to race and finished fifth.

Deignan was named as team leader of Great Britain's Bergen squad and despite not being at her best will still be the protected rider. Elinor Barker, Alice Barnes, Hannah Barnes, Dani King, Mel Lowther and Hayley Simmonds will also race, with Barker and King expected to step up if Deignan realises she's not competitive.

"I'm an unknown now, so maybe the others will watch me and that could give the other GB girls a free reign," Deignan suggested. "There's no point in shepherding me. I can float around and look after myself. If I can follow the race winning move, great, if I can't the other will have a chance too."

Deignan predicts an interesting women's race. They face eight climbs of Salmon Hill on the rolling, technical circuit for a total distance of 152.8km.

The Netherlands stand out due to their strength in depth but Deignan has noted that many of the expected favourites are not at their best.

"It's going to be an intriguing race because none of the big-name riders stand out for me, apart from the Dutch," she explained.

"Annemiek van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen are going well but the likes Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Poland and Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy are not going firing. Emilia Fahlin is a dark horse but the usual suspects that would make it an aggressive race, I'm not sure if they're capable of it this time."

That is why Deignan refuses to give up hope of a shot at a second rainbow jersey.

"It's a world title and anything can happen. It's about how much you want it, I know that from the past," she said. "It's not always the strongest rider that wins in bike racing and normally that's very frustrating for me but it might not be on Saturday."

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