Former road race world champion Lizzie Deignan will return to racing in the colours of the new Trek Factory Racing team in 2019, but has not set a date for her comeback after the birth of her baby last month.
The 29-year-old British rider announced early on in her pregnancy that she intended to return to racing in time to compete at the 2019 UCI Road World Championships, which will take place in her home county of Yorkshire next September.
Deignan may then draw her career to a close after the Tokyo Olympic Games road race in 2020, but hopes that her return to her racing will inspire other mothers to return to their careers after giving birth.
"I have been inspired by countless women who have showed how successful and feasible this challenge could be," the four-time road race national champion said back in March. "My dream of becoming world champion at home in Yorkshire is still my dream. I'll just have more people to share the journey with."
She and husband Philip Deignan – currently with Team Sky, but still without a contract for 2019 – welcomed a daughter into the world last month,
In a Guardian interview with cycling journalist William Fotheringham, published on Friday, Deignan said that when she became pregnant she originally "had no plan to come back" after giving birth.
"But about a month in [to her pregnancy], I realised that was what I wanted to do, and that I might be capable of doing both, and that it might inspire other women."
With the World Championships now just under a year away, Deignan will be only too aware of the need to train and then race in the build-up to the road race, but neither does she want to put herself under any undue pressure by naming the date of her return.
"I wanted to be cautious, because the goal is the Yorkshire Worlds. I haven't got to race until June," the 2015 world champion told the Guardian, referring to her agreement with her new Trek Factory Racing team, "so I've got a good amount of time, although it's possible it may be earlier.
"All I have had from Trek about my comeback is positive enthusiasm," she continued. "There is no judgment on me as a mother. They thought it was an excellent opportunity and it would encourage other mothers to ride their bikes."
Deignan also admitted that as a rider she thought she had become "stale", and that she was simply "going through the motions" before leaving her former team, Boels-Dolmans, in early 2018 for a much-needed break from the pressures of professional cycling.
"It's made me realise how lucky I am to do what I do," she said, but also pointing out that she was still riding her bike until three months until the birth of her daughter, which was "good for my physical and mental health".
"I'd rather try and fail than not try. I'm absolutely prepared to fail but I will have to decide what failure is," said Deignan.
"I have no doubt it will be a serious challenge but I'm excited by that," she said. "I wasn't very happy with my racing before. If you are winning you are expected to be happy but I'd fallen out of love with it. Now I have a second chance to enjoy it."
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