Deignan: You can stop asking me about retirement

Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) celebrates winning inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes
Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) celebrates winning inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes (Image credit: Getty Images)

Lizzie Deignan has said she is not thinking about retirement for the foreseeable future, after previously planning to bow out after the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The 33-year-old with Trek-Segafredo postponed her retirement at the end of 2020, and this month confirmed that ending her career is not on her mind as she heads into 2022. 

“I’ve changed a lot,” Deignan said, admitting she ‘doesn’t recognise’ the person who was considering retirement in 2020. “Maturity has a lot to do with it - understanding and being incredibly grateful for the job I get to do. I think maturity helps you understand and appreciate what you’ve got, and I definitely do that a lot more than I used to.”

Deignan put a pause on racing in 2018 to give birth to her first child, and told Cyclingnews in 2019 that her plan was to return “just for the Yorkshire Worlds and the Tokyo Olympics, and that would be it.” 

She had a disappointing road race at Yorkshire in 2019, but rebounded for wins at La Course by Le Tour de France and Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes in 2020, and continued another year to compete in the postponed Tokyo Olympics that were moved to 2021, where she was 11th. However, her form carried over to a memorable victory in the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes. Now with so much recent success in the past, so are Deignan’s thoughts of stopping.

“I would say you can stop asking me about retirement,” she said. “I'll let you know when I'm thinking about it again.”

Several riders postponed their retirement until the end of 2021 to compensate for the coronavirus-hit 2020 season, including many of Deignan’s long-term contemporaries such as Anna van der Breggen and Kirsten Wild. 

Deignan, however, said the COVID-19 pandemic made her even more appreciative of her life as a cyclist. 

“Being a professional athlete has its difficult times, but you look around and realise that, in the middle of a pandemic when people are struggling, I’m still getting to travel the world and still getting paid to ride my bike," she said. “It’s ridiculous to think about ever walking away from that because of perceived pressures, or whatever.”

Whilst Deignan doesn’t give the impression of wanting to cross off certain races before retirement, she named some objectives in her sights for 2022. Her personal goal was a victory at Amstel Gold Race, she said, but added that helping Trek-Segafredo to success would be the marker of a good year.

“If we were back on top of the Women's WorldTour ranking as a  team, that would be cool. That would represent a good season.”

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Matilda Price is a freelance cycling journalist and digital producer based in the UK. She is a graduate of modern languages, and recently completed an MA in sports journalism, during which she wrote her dissertation on the lives of young cyclists. Matilda began covering cycling in 2016 whilst still at university, working mainly in the British domestic scene at first. Since then, she has covered everything from the Tour Series to the Tour de France. These days, Matilda focuses most of her attention on the women’s sport, writing for Cyclingnews and working on women’s cycling show The Bunnyhop. As well as the Women’s WorldTour, Matilda loves following cyclo-cross and is a recent convert to downhill mountain biking.