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Lizzie Deignan: I'm on a roller coaster

Lizzie Deignan on the cover of Procycling
Lizzie Deignan on the cover of Procycling (Image credit: Procycling)

Procycling magazine: the best writing and photography from inside the world’s toughest sport. Pick up your copy now in all good newsagents and supermarkets, or get a Procycling print or digital subscription, and never miss an issue.

This is an extract from the cover interview with Lizzie Deignan from the July 2020 edition of Procycling magazine, out now and available to buy here.

Life, sang John Lennon, is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans. Lizzie Deignan’s had her fair share of life in the last few seasons, what with the whereabouts business, the baby and now the COVID-19 crisis, and it has gone further than interrupting her plans; it’s upended her whole self-image.

"I’m very much a plan-focused person, but we can’t plan anything. That’s been difficult," she tells Procycling over a WhatsApp video call from her home in Harrogate. "I’m learning," she adds, to take each day as it comes.

Deignan loves a plan. She wrote in her autobiography Steadfast of the colour-coded, hand-written training plans tracking her progress towards specific targets over months and months of micro-managed detail. The first time I interviewed her, after her 2016 Worlds win, which was a masterpiece of perfection and control, she told me she was a perfectionist and a control freak. It was said with a smile, but I made a mental note never to turn up late for an interview.

But she’s been a bit up and down recently, the same as the rest of us. She was lucky, to an extent, that she and her family had been visiting family and staying at their home in Harrogate just before lockdown might have made travelling from Monaco complicated. She’s not had the same restrictions on being outdoors that many of her peers experienced in France, Spain and Italy, for example, which is just as well, because she’s not a fan of the indoor trainer ("I've managed to get through the whole of lockdown without a single one"). And there’s a garden in Harrogate, which is more than you get in most Monaco flats. At the same time, she’s envious of her colleagues in the Netherlands. "The Dutch seem to live pretty normally at the moment. They can go out on a ride and get a takeaway coffee. I’ve not had coffee with frothy milk for a long time," she says wistfully. And recent events have given her plenty of time to think.

"Day-to-day life hasn’t honestly changed that much. It’s made us realise we’re quite boring people," she jokes. "Professional sportspeople live very simple routines. The fact we can’t go out for dinner or lunch isn’t that different to our everyday life anyway. Day to day, it’s fine. It’s when you look at the bigger picture that things get more overwhelming.

"I’ve been up and down. I’m either optimistic or completely doomsday, and nowhere in the middle. I’m on a roller coaster between being optimistic and thinking it’s going to be okay, and thinking, 'God, what is the state of the world that I’ve brought a daughter into?'"

This is an extract from the cover interview with Lizzie Deignan from the July 2020 edition of Procycling magazine, out now and available to buy here

Procycling magazine: the best writing and photography from inside the world's toughest sport. Pick up your copy now in all good newsagents and supermarkets, or get a Procycling print or digital subscription, and never miss an issue.

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