Lizzie Deignan on Patrick Lefevere: 'I'm pleased he has no interest in women's cycling, we have no interest in him either'

The Brit slaps down the Deceuninck - Quick-Step boss before turning her focus to trying to win another rainbow jersey

Lizzie Deignan
(Image credit: Getty)

Lizzie Deignan is known for her heart-on-sleeve, attacking racing, and that will be the name of the game on Saturday in the road race at the Flanders World Championships.

But first, from one of the most senior and respected members of the women's peloton, her thoughts on Patrick Lefevere's comments that he is not a charity when asked whether a women's squad was something he'd consider extending his Deceuninck - Quick-Step organisation to include.

"I really just take everything he says with a pinch of salt," Deignan says, having known the question was coming. "So no, I'm not disappointed by his comments. Actually, I'm pleased that he has no interest in women's cycling because we have no interest in him either."

Kablam. Boom. Pow. That's a clean shot. Bye-bye Patrick. Now, onto something much more important - the Flanders road race.

>>> Ethan Vernon: The ups and downs and the patience required en route to the promised land of WorldTour stardom

"It's been a long time coming this World Championships, it's been nice to be at a Worlds that's been set in stone for a long time and we've been able to prepare for it and get excited about it," she says after the uncertainty around the 2020 Imola event due to the pandemic.

Deignan has now seen the Leuven circuit on closed roads and likes the look of it, expecting a dynamic race and she can't quite pinpoint an obvious place where it will explode into life.

Tactically, the 33-year-old explains there is still nothing she can do to prevent everyone from marking her, as has happened previously.

"No, I wish there was," she admits. "I've come into this just a bit more open-minded and I think I still have that tactic and being willing to lose it in order to win it. 

"My tactic still still remains the same - I want to win. I'm not happy with the top 10, that doesn't interest me. It's frustrating when other riders around me are happy with the top 10 but I understand that not everyone has won a race and those are stepping stones to results for people. I just have to go in with an all-in attitude, I suppose."

This Worlds road race especially, Deignan argues, team-mates will play a key role.

"I think this World Championships a team is really important and I think we've got women here that are capable of being there deep into the final," she estimates. "So for the first time in a few years, I think we have the ability to use our team to our advantage. 

"In Imola, the circuit was just too hard. I was on my own, but this year, I think it's a lot more dynamic. And also other riders have stepped up like Anna Henderson, I expect her to be there at the thick end of the race and we have opportunities there."

Highlighting her main competition, Deignan namechecks home favourite Lotte Kopecky, and says it's a course that suits her well, but doesn't discount the Danes, including Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Emma Norsgaard, and just imagine for a second the post-race interview if the former wins the rainbow jersey. She reckons Italy have the most united team and can either use Bastianelli for the sprints or Deignan's team-mate Elisa Longo Borghini before that on the climbs. The Dutchwomen, on the other hand, are not mentioned.

Finally, with Paris-Roubaix also following a week after the Worlds, what would Deignan choose if she could only win one of them?

"I'm not fussy I'd take either," she decides. "They're both too hard to be too greedy."

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.

Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).

I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.