Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) says she’s finding it ‘boring’ that she can’t yet attack as she has done in the past.
The former world champion only made her return to racing two weeks ago at the Amstel Gold Race, having taken an extended break to give birth to her daughter, Orla. Deignan races through the Ardennes Classics last week, with her best result coming at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where she finished in seventh place.
This week she’s racing at the two-stage Tour de Yorkshire, her home race, and her first stage race with new team Trek-Segafredo.
The 30-year-old put in a number of shifts on the front of the bunch during the cold and rainy conditions of stage one from Barnsley to Bedale, which was eventually won in a sprint finish by Dutchwoman Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel Valkenberg).
But Deignan says she struggled in the difficult conditions of Friday’s stage and that she’s still working towards the kind of condition that helped her become world champion in 2015.
“It was very cold, kind of miserable for a long time but there were hundreds of people out on the roads and it was a great atmosphere,” Deignan said at the finish in Bedale.
“To be honest I was just trying to stay warm, obviously normally in a race you’re trying to save as much energy as you possibly can but today there were points where you just had to ride on the front to stay warm and then towards the end we didn’t have our sprint, she’s unfortunately been poorly this morning, so we kind of just did what we could and we all got through safely.
“The head [is] definitely [feeling like it used to] – I’m still so eager to get going and I’m finding it boring that I can’t attack like I used to. That’ll come back; a couple of races down the line and I’m sure that’ll come back.
“I struggled today, I felt better in Liège last week, hopefully tomorrow I’ll come round. At the moment for me it’s all about getting those races in and that race rhythm.”
Stage one of the women’s Tour de Yorkshire also gave riders a glimpse at the 20km finishing circuit of the World Championships road race in September, which finishes with an uphill drag on Parliament Street in Harrogate; the same finish used in the opening stage of the 2014 Tour de France.
Deignan, who grew up in nearby Otley, explained after racing the Worlds finish for the first time that she’d been approaching the final corners of the circuit wrong in reconnaissance rides in training.
“It was really good [to see the World Champs course], and to be honest I’ve been doing it wrong in training. So I’m glad I actually saw the proper course, it was good,” Deignan said.
“Just the final couple of corners [I was getting wrong]. I’ve just been coming at it from a different angle, god knows how. The main points of the circuit I’ve been doing properly but it’s a tough circuit, I like it.”
Deignan also added that the finals descent and climb out of Oak Beck on Penny Pot Lane, around 5km from Worlds finish line, will be an important point positionally in a 150km race that could come down to a sprint finish. She said anyone out of position at that point would be “in trouble” ahead of the final roads towards the finish.