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Lizzie Deignan: My previous level isn’t going to be good enough

Lizzie Deignan (Trek Segafredo) in action
(Image credit: Getty Images)

After returning to elite competition this spring Lizzie Deignan is pleased with the level she displayed in 2019 but the former world champion has vowed that her previous levels will not stand up if she is to reach the pinnacle of the sport once more, in what is expected to be her final season of racing as she targets the Tokyo Olympic road race.

Deignan gave birth to her first child in 2018 and returned to competition in the spring of this year. She raced a reduced schedule during her first season in Trek-Segafredo colours as she found her feet but still managed to pick up several impressive results, including seventh in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and a win in the OVO Energy Women’s Tour. 

She capped her season with a brave but ultimately unsuccessful ride at the World Championships, in which she gave her home crowd a rousing performance.  

“I had dreams but I didn’t really have any expectations. I’d never had a baby before and I’d never ridden for Trek-Segafredo before. Looking back, I’m really pleased with how the season went for me,” she told Cyclingnews at the recent Rouleur Classic in London.

With a more settled home routine and the support of her partner - ex-rider Phillip Deignan – the 2015 road world champion heads into the winter with her confidence high. 

“I think that this year really puts me in a strong position going into the winter and then for next season," she explained.

"When I look back at bringing up my daughter for the first year of my life, riding for a new team, and then having a home world championships, and my husband retiring, there was just so much thrown into the mix that I feel like I’m settled now. I feel like it will almost be easy now during the winter.”

“I feel like this year has been a learning curve. The bike side of things has been fairly easy but I feel like I’ve found my feet as a mum as well. Trek-Segafredo were brilliant this year. I did 22 race days, which wasn’t a lot but from a performance perspective, I have to race a lot more in 2020. 

Although this year provided Deignan with many positive aspects she is also aware that the sport has improved in the last two years and that to win the biggest races on the women’s WorldTour she will have to find another level.

“The level is harder and that was a surprise, so I was doing this amount of power but it wasn’t collating to the results I was getting. So I know that being as good as I was isn’t going to be good enough. I need to take another step and I need to do that this winter.” 

“It basically means that when I’m setting my baseline at intervals I’m not setting them at 350 and 360 watts and being happy at 355. It needs to always be 360 and you need to know in training that it’s not enough. There’s going to be more pressure for myself, that’s definite.”

Deignan’s full racing campaign for 2020 has yet to be decided but the Trek-Segafredo rider will take on the Classics and the Giro before dialing in her focus on the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“I’ll do the Classics and the Giro next year. I don’t always do that. I really like the Olympics course. Comparing to Rio, the climb in Tokyo isn’t horrendous and it’s more of a Classics course and a bit like Liege. The longest climb is 1km so it’s a real Classics race.”