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Lizzie Deignan: We’re allowed to race on instinct and not to fear failure

Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) wins Liege-Bastogne-Liege (Image credit: Getty Images)

Lizzie Deignan claimed her first Liège-Bastogne-Liège title on Sunday after making an unstoppable attack on the iconic climb of La Redoute. 

The Trek-Segafredo rider made her move with 30km of racing remaining and despite a frantic chase from Grace Brown of Mitchelton-Scott, Deignan stayed away to take the win and continue her incredible season that now includes victories at La Course, GP de Plouay, and a string of top-ten results.

Deignan generously said her win was only possible thanks to the performances of her Trek-Segafredo teammates.

“I’m really, really happy. What a team performance and I was the lucky one who got to finish it off,” Deignan said at the finish of Sunday’s race.

“It was a really hard race, but Anna Plichta and Tayler Wiles did an amazing job looking after me in the beginning. I didn’t have to worry that it was pretty dangerous and wet. They delivered me perfectly in position to where I eventually jumped to the break that Ellen (van Dijk) was in. I just felt the moment, and I think that comes from having confidence of being in this team and having directors who allow us to race on instinct. There’s no fear of failure.

“It was Ellen who said to me: ‘Lizzie, you have to go on La Redoute’, and I did, and didn’t look back, and I just won. [I knew I had won] In the last 500 metres.” 

When Deignan attacked there were still several classified and unclassified climbs remaining but she quickly established a minute over the chase group as van Dijk marked her nearest rivals in the group behind. 

When Brown attacked and began her impressive chase, it looked as though the Australian would make contact in the closing kilometres as she cut Deignan’s lead down to just over ten seconds but on the descent into Liege. 

However the Trek-Segafredo rider held her nerve and kept the Mitchelton rider at bay. “It was really close, Grace Brown was coming up really hot behind me and I knew how good of a time triallist she is and I was getting more and more legless. 

"I’m just really delighted! It’s been an up and down year for everybody, personally and professionally, and credit to my teammates, staff and sponsors that I’m just able to focus on being a professional athlete because there are so many other things just now that are so difficult. This is the simple part and I’m supported by the best team in the world so I feel lucky.”

The win in Liege was just rewards for Trek-Segafredo who came close to victory in La Flèche Wallonne earlier in the week but were ultimately left chasing shadows on the final climb, with Deignan their top finisher in fourth. 

“We’ve been waiting to win a classic like this and I think we’ve been almost there so many times. I just had the perfect team today. This is for the team; this is a Trek-Segafredo win,” she said.

“The nicest thing about this team is that we’re allowed to race on instinct and not to fear failure.”

Deignan’s win catapulted her to the top of the UCI’s Women’s WorldTour rankings ahead of the cobbled Classics, which start in just under a week.

“It’s a reflection of the teamwork we have, Elisa is also close so we can have some fun in the next races and think about that jersey.”