Two bouts of illness hampered Lizzie Deignan in the first half of the season, with the 2015 world champion sick around the Opening Weekend and then again on the eve of the Ardennes Classics.
However, the British rider is looking to bounce back and rescue her season, starting with Thüringen Ladies Tour, which starts on Tuesday.
"The first half of my season was really disappointing," Deignan said in a statement released by her team on Tuesday.
"It was really bad luck to get sick when I did after a really consistent winter. Things like not going home for Christmas, like I normally do, meant I had a really good, consistent winter block of training so I was expecting to be able to do some good things in spring. I got sick before Opening Weekend and it never really got going. It was disappointing but it’s one of those things."
Deignan finished well off the pace in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad but bounced back to take an encouraging 12th in Trofeo Alfredo Binda. She was 17th in Gent-Wevelgem, 21st in Dwars door Vlaanderen and then 18th in the Tour of Flanders.
However, she was forced to skip the entire Ardennes campaign due to a second bout of illness. The team was keen to stress at the time that it wasn’t COVID-19 and, in the weeks and months since the spring campaign concluded, the 32-year-old has been busily building up her fitness.
"I normally ride my season through to the Tour of Yorkshire at the beginning of May and then have a little break. This year, unfortunately, my break was when I was sick, so I’ve just been training since the beginning of May. The weather in Monaco has been great, so I can’t complain, it’s been nice to train under the sun," Deignan said.
"I’ve been ticking away, hoping to have rebuilt a bit of form and hoping that Thüringen goes well. I’ve done a lot of training this year. Seeing as I got sick so often in the spring it feels like I’ve hardly raced, so it will be nice to actually be on the start-line again and a stage race is always nice to re-find that race rhythm."
Trek-Segafredo head into Thüringen with a strong team that includes Lucinda Brand, Audrey Cordon-Ragot, Ellen van Dijk, Trixi Worrack, and Deignan. The British rider isn’t putting undue pressure on herself and will use the six-day race to hone her fitness and form. That said, the 2020 Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner will also look to take any opportunities that come her way.
"We’re racing Thüringen with just five because we’ve had a team racing a big block in Spain. It’s about getting back into racing for me and Ellen. There’s not much pressure for a result, it’s just about focusing on the next goals," she said.
"I’m here to get an overload week of training, but obviously, I’m the kind of racer who will take an opportunity if it’s there."
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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