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No regrets for Deignan as Imola hills inspire a climber's race at Worlds

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lizzie Deignan finished sixth in the chase group behind new world champion Anna van der Breggen and medallists Annemiek van Vleuten and Elisa Longo Borghini at the World Championships, but had few regrets about the outcome of the women’s race, after riding a tactically smart race. 

“The strongest rider won today. I was a bit in no man’s land in the end, not quite able to go with the best climbers and then I was stuck and marked as one of the best punchy, sprint riders,” Deignan told Cyclingnews after finishing behind Marianne Vos and Liane Lippert of Germany. 

“Overall I’m happy with my performance. There was not much more I could have done.” 

Some had suggested the steep climbs in the 28.8km circuit would suit Deignan, who won the rainbow jersey in 2015, but the attacks from Van Vleuten and then Van der Breggen made them hurt even more than expected.

“The second climb was just so hard and long. Coming into the World Championships, people said it suited me but those kinds of climbs are a bit too long for me,” Deignan admitted.

“It was still a climber’s course and I think the result confirmed that.”

The Great Britain team leader enjoyed a protected ride in the peloton for much of the race thanks to the presence of Hannah Barnes in the 11-rider attack.

When Van Vlueten set a fierce pace on the penultimate climb up to Cima Gallisterna and split the peloton, Deignan dug deep to stay in contact and got back on the false flat and descent to the Imola autodromo.

With Van der Breggen already away alone and time trialing towards a second world title, the other attackers refused to work together and were eventually caught by the chasers, with Marianne Vos able to sit on and then win the sprint to give the Netherlands a fourth place alongside the world title and a silver medal. 

“With two laps to go, I was in a group that was going for the medals but they didn’t commit to the cause,” Deignan said with a hint of disappointment. 

 “If the Italians wouldn’t commit in their home championships, then I'm not going to commit either. It was their race to win.”

The World Championships is usually the final race of the season for many women. Not this year. The COVID-19 pandemic and rescheduling of the season mean that Deignan will race on, deep into October.  

“I’ve got Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday, the season doesn’t stop here,” she said with a mix of enthusiasm and fatigue. 

“It’s back to back racing at the moment. But that’s OK – we’re all happy to be racing.”