Current British and former World champion Lizzie Deignan has announced she and husband Philip are expecting their first baby in September. The pregnancy means 29-year-old Lizzie will not race again this season, though she is hoping to return to competition next year.
The current Commonwealth champion confirmed to Cycling Weekly last month that she would not defend her title on the Gold Coast next month. In the same interview she expressed a desire to compete at the 2019 World Championships to be held in her home country of Yorkshire, and this remains the case.
“I am aiming to return to professional cycling in 2019 and 2020,” she said in a Boels-Dolmans team press release. “I have been inspired by countless women who have showed how successful and feasible this challenge could be.
“My dream of becoming world champion at home in Yorkshire is still my dream, I will just have more people to share the journey with.”
The statement also suggests Deignan will remain with the Boels-Dolmans when she returns to competition next season.
“I will continue to ride for Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team, who have been the catalyst to success in my career. I hope to finish my career in 2020 at the pinnacle of my sport, the Tokyo Olympic Games. Bring it on!”
Having been on the podium at all three previous editions, Deignan had been expected to begin her competitive season at Strade Bianche earlier this month, but was not present, her team evasive when asked about her absence.
While the loss of Deignan will doubtless weaken Boels-Dolmans, they are yet to miss her in the peloton, winning both Women’s WorldTour races so far this season.
Laura Kenny is one woman to have proved how cycling success can combine with motherhood, winning a team pursuit silver medal at the recent track World Championships. Dame Sarah Storey also returned to top competition at the 2016 Paralympics after the birth of her first child.
However, successful mothers are not common in women’s professional road cycling, though Italian rider Marta Bastianelli (Alé-Cippolini) is one who regularly wins races. For now though, Deignan and her Team Sky husband, Philip are aware of the change on its way.
“We both feel incredibly lucky and grateful that we are going to become parents. We are excited and full of anticipation for how our lives are going to change.”