Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) is on a steep, upward trajectory to being back at the top of her game after taking time off from the sport to give birth to her first baby. Upon the conclusion of the Tour of California, she told Cyclingnews that she felt optimistic about her form as she builds towards her goal of winning a second rainbow jersey at the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire in September.
"I’m feeling good, positive and optimistic," Deignan said. "I’m finding myself in no man’s land a bit - not quite good enough in the sprints and not quite good enough on the climbs. I think my strength has always been as an all-rounder, so I need to get that little bit of level back again, and I’m confident that I can get that back."
Deignan raced with Boels Dolmans for five seasons until she announced last March that she was pregnant and wouldn’t be racing during 2018. Six months into her pregnancy, Trek-Segafredo offered her a contract that she accepted. She told Cyclingnews that she felt lucky to be in a position to continue to race and that she feels at home within the Trek-Segafredo programme.
"I’m pleased with how it has gone," Deignan said. "The main thing is that I feel so good within the team, which is something I can’t control. I can control my fitness and all the rest, but the stuff that is out of my control has been really good, too."
She returned to competition earlier than expected at the Ardennes Classics and continued at the Tour de Yorkshire and into the Tour of California. She particularly impressed director Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, who said she played a crucial role in the finalses at Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
In California, Deignan was eighth in the opening stage sprint, 14th on the summit of Mt. Baldy on stage 2, and 7th in the stage 3 sprint. She finished 14th overall, while Boels Dolmans teammates Anna van der Breggen and Katie Hall finished first and second overall.
Deignan believes her form will only continue to improve and she’s not putting too much pressure on herself to get there too quickly.
"It’s a gradual process," she said. "I know what I did in the last few weeks before I came here and I need to do more of that. I did such a long winter of building my base miles again, and haven’t done that much intensity. It’s a case of doing more intensity now and racing more. Sometimes it takes care of itself, too, with racing. It’s not rocket science. I have to get that consistency of interval training again."
Deignan will continue racing through the OVO Energy Women’s Tour held from June 10-15 to build on her higher-intensity form before taking a small break from racing.
"It’s just about continuing with the form I’ve got at the moment and getting in a full stage race in the UK," she said. "That will give me another step forward in my overall fitness, and then I’ll take a step back and recover. The rest of the season, I’ll discuss with Ina and Giorgia [Bronzini]."
Deignan won the world title at the 2015 UCI Road World Championships in Richmond. Her primary focus for the 2019 season has always been to win a second world title in Yorkshire. She told Cyclingnews that she’s feeling good about her chances in Yorkshire given the classics-style course. She will also adjust her training and racing programme accordingly heading into the late summer months.
"There is no doubt that I will keep on improving, so that is exciting," she said. "The World Championships is a massive goal of mine, and I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been and I’m enjoying training more than I ever have. I feel positive about it."
She has also made it no secret that Yorkshire Worlds is extra special given that she grew up in Otley, West Yorkshire, and knows the roads well. She previewed the route at the Tour de Yorkshire earlier this month and will adjust her training accordingly.
Deignan said that the thought of winning a second world title in front of her family, husband and daughter, on home roads, is what makes this World Championships extra special.
"I don’t think there would ever be anything that would compare to winning a world title at home in front of my family," she said.
"Even just being on the start line will be phenomenal. For any athlete taking part in the Yorkshire World Championships, whether they are British or not, it will be a special event. The fact that I have the opportunity to do something special is motivating."
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