21 things you didn't know about Lizzie Deignan

The trailblazing British cyclist has been at the top of the sport for over a decade

Lizzie Deignan
Lizzie Deignan at the RideLondon Classique this year
(Image credit: Getty Images)
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Date of birth18/12/1988
NicknameQueen Lizzie
Height1.68m/5ft 6in
PartnerPhilip Deignan
Turned pro2008
BikeTrek Domane SLR 9/Trek Émonda SLR 9/Trek Madone SLR 9
UCI race wins43
Stage race wins4
Grand Tour stage wins0
CoachPhilip Deignan

Lizzie Deignan is the greatest British female road cyclist of her generation. Her record stands up against some of the best racers of the last decade, and she remains at the top of the sport. The Yorkshirewoman burst onto the scene in the late 2000s, and has been racing ever since. She started out on the track, but road racing was always her goal.

The 34-year-old has recently returned to racing after spending the entirety of the 2022 season out in the run-up and aftermath of the birth of her second child, and has had a lowkey 2023. However, Deignan is set to race both the Giro d'Italia Donne and the Tour de France Femmes in the coming couple of months.

Ahead of those big goals, here are 21 things you didn't know about the Trek-Segafredo rider.

Lizzie Deignan

Lizzie Deignan rides at La Vuelta Femenina this year

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Lizzie Deignan got into cycling aged 15, in 2004. She later said: “I started cycling when I was 15. I was talent spotted at school. I wasn’t a cyclist, I didn’t have a bike and basically British Cycling were talent spotting. They sent trailers into schools full of bikes and did crude testing on school fields."

2. She impressed the BC talent scouts by beating a boy, and was then given a bike. “I was just messing around and there was this lad who I’d known from primary school who taunted me into having a race with him and I couldn’t resist. I beat him obviously. I was given a bike, a coach and £500 of lottery funding.”

3. Deignan graduated from BC's Olympic Podium Programme, but never loved racing on the track. Despite this, she was a member of the winning team pursuit squad at the 2009 World Championships, alongside Joanna Rowsell Shand and Wendy Houvenaghel.

4. She was part of the five-woman team which helped Nicole Cooke to World Championship road race victory in Varese in 2008.

5. It was 2009 when Deignan really moved onto the road, finishing second at the British National Championships road race, and claiming her first trade team win at the Tour Cycliste Féminin International Ardèche in September that year. She won three more stages at the same race in 2010.

6. Her first National Championships win came in 2011, when she beat Cooke, Sharon Laws and Emma Pooley at Stamfordham. Deignan has four road race titles.

7. Her second place in the road race at the 2012 Olympics in London was the first medal Team GB claimed at the historic games, where it finished third in the medal table.

Lizzie Deignan

Lizzie Deignan celebrates her World Championships win in 2015

(Image credit: Getty Images)

8. She suffered from a hiatus hernia in 2013, which was left undiagnosed during the year, her first season with Boels-Dolmans.

9. Her longest-running teammate is Ellen van Dijk. 2014 was the first season that Deignan spent on the same team as the Dutchwoman, who she has gone on to spend eight years with, at Boels-Dolmans and then at Trek-Segafredo.

10. Deignan raced against her current directeur sportif Ina-Yoko Teutenberg on 112 different occasions, with the German coming out on top 61 times. To be fair to Deignan, this was in her early years.

11. One of her most momentous victories came in 2014, when she beat Anna van der Breggen at the Ronde van Drenthe. Despite being almost two years younger, Van der Breggen retired in 2021.

12. She became the fourth-ever British woman to win the World Championships road race when she triumphed in Richmond, Virginia, in 2015, following Cooke, Beryl Burton and Mandy Jones. “I’ve got in trouble from a few people for not putting my hands up in the air,” she said. “It was absolute shock. You’ve got all that 130km of being totally focused and as soon as you cross the line it takes a few seconds to realise what’s happened."

13. She has finished in the top ten of the World Championship road race six times.

14. 2015 and 2016 saw Deignan at the top of the sport, as in two seasons she won the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, the British National Championships again, GP de Plouay, the Worlds, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche, the Tour of Flanders, and the Womens Tour.

Lizzie Deignan

Lizzie Deignan celebrates winning Paris-Roubaix in 2021

(Image credit: Getty Images)

15. She was a trailblazer in becoming a mother and then returning to the sport. She moved from Boels-Dolmans to Trek-Segafredo during her maternity. In 2018, she said: "My career was up in the air really but I was then approached by Trek. I was concerned about my future in the sport as it hasn't really happened before at elite level road cycling."

16. She married former Team Sky cyclist Philip Deignan in 2016, changing her name from Armitstead to Deignan in the process.

17. Lizzie Deignan is a pescatarian, something she has been since the age of ten.

18. When Deignan won the first women's Paris-Roubaix in 2021, she became the only woman to complete the triple of women's monuments: the Tour of Flanders (2016), Liège-Bastogne-Liège (2020) and Roubaix.

19. She had a second child, Shea, in 2022, which caused her to miss the entire 2022 season. Deignan said this year: "Leaving Shea before he was sleeping through the night, the control freak in me was wanting all those things to be set in stone before I left, but turns out he slept through the night the day I left. So he knew the plan.”

20. In doing so, and returning to action, she became the first female professional to have two children and return to racing. “I know the journey. I know how it works. I know that I have to trust in the process and my body,” she said this year. “Logically, I know that if I don’t feel 100 percent now then in a month, dramatic changes can happen. So that experience is useful."

21. She missed the first Tour de France Femmes due to the pregnancy, but worked at it as a television pundit, which gave her the urge to take part this summer. "I felt like a fan and really soaked up the atmosphere, but at the same time it was reassuring being there because I still had the urge to race," she said. "I really wanted to the on the other side of the fence, with my teammates. I’m not ready to be a fan just yet!"

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.