Despite being a prolific winner herself, Deignan has embraced chances to take on team roles in this year, racing in support of riders like Elisa Longo Borghini and Ellen van Dijk.
“Going into a race and being able to work for a teammate and just completely empty yourself, it’s a really satisfying job,” she said. “The fear of failure isn’t there, because the pressure to win isn’t on your shoulders.
“You can push through pain barriers that you can’t when you’re trying to win yourself. If you’re about to be dropped on a climb, you're thinking, ‘oh my goodness, I'm going to be dropped’ whereas if you're working for somebody else, those thought processes aren't even there. It's just about going as deep as you can for as long as you can."
In a team as strong as Trek-Segafredo, where several riders could be leaders in any given race, Deignan said the key to a functioning team dynamic is open communication.
“You’ve just got to be really honest with each other. It’s OK to have clashing goals, or if we have a team meeting and someone else says they want to win Amstel Gold," she said, referencing a race she is targetting herself. "I think there is room to have more than one leader and it’s just about communicating that early on so there’s no hidden agendas or things that crop up as a surprise.”
Trek-Segafredo confirmed on Tuesday that Deignan is in their proposed team for next season’s inaugural Tour de France Femmes, but she recognises her ambitions will be balanced against those of her teammates.
“The Tour de France is huge, but it depends a little bit on the team dynamic and what their expectations of me are, and I don’t know that yet,” she said. “I’m keen to know what the team wants before I say ‘the Tour de France is a huge goal’, because it might be a huge goal or Elisa’s or Ellen’s and I need to fall in line.
“So I need to pick areas where I'm going to go for myself, and also pick areas where I need to be a good teammate. I still need to have those conversations.”
Whilst team plans and individual riders’ goals are still to be formally mapped out, Deignan does have her eyes on the spring Classics and one of the few races she hasn’t won yet.
“I’d like to focus on Amstel Gold and the Ardennes Classics. I’ve still not won Amstel, so it would be nice to tick that one off.”
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Matilda Price is a freelance cycling journalist and digital producer based in the UK. She is a graduate of modern languages, and recently completed an MA in sports journalism, during which she wrote her dissertation on the lives of young cyclists. Matilda began covering cycling in 2016 whilst still at university, working mainly in the British domestic scene at first. Since then, she has covered everything from the Tour Series to the Tour de France. These days, Matilda focuses most of her attention on the women’s sport, writing for Cyclingnews and working on women’s cycling show The Bunnyhop. As well as the Women’s WorldTour, Matilda loves following cyclo-cross and is a recent convert to downhill mountain biking.
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