Lizzie Deignan says she is proud of her efforts in the World Championships elite women’s road race, despite missing out on a medal on home roads.
The 2015 world champion worked harder than every other rider in an eight-strong group that was chasing Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands), who broke clear on the Lofthouse climb with 104km left to race.
The Dutchwoman in the end was able to execute a magnificent solo effort to hold on and take the World title, while the Yorkshire-born Deignan faded from her efforts after closing a gap to Chloe Dygert’s (USA) attack with around 37km to go.
Having made numerous attacks to try and bridge to Van Vleuten earlier in the day, it was a long and difficult chase for the 30-year-old to try and get back to Dygert along with Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands), Amanda Spratt (Australia) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) who had distanced her. Caught by the peloton, Deignan eventually rolled in to take 31st place.
“I didn’t readjust and aim for a silver medal I was always going for the rainbow and obviously the group I was with clearly had readjusted and were thinking about going for a silver and bronze,” Deignan said.
“When Chloe went on that move, I was just off it and I’d been on the front too long. Stupid you know, tactical error. But I’m proud of the way I raced and the physical shape I got myself into to be here today. But it’s not that I lost the race because of a tactic.”
Van Vleuten, who admitted after the race that it wasn’t the plan to make a definitive solo move so far out, simply blew everyone away on the climb of Lofthouse. Deignan had tried to hold on to her wheel, but eventually let her go with the aim of eventually reeling her back to a reduced group.
“I knew Annemiek would be impossible to hang on to there,” Deignan explained. “I kind of knew she was about to go and I kind of closed the door on her a couple of times. I delayed her attack as long as I could, but I knew it was an inevitability and it was the perfect launch pad for her and nobody can follow her on that kind of climb.”
Deignan added that she had tried to conserve her energy as much as possible in the chase group, but began to try and make moves out of frustration that the group was not chasing fast enough to close the gap on Van Vleuten.
“When the group started messing around behind it was like, ‘we have to commit we’re not riding fast enough,’ she said. “And that was when I started to make a couple of moves. I was like, we’re never going to catch her back at this stage. You know, I was trying to kind of hold back and do just as much as everybody else but I knew that that wasn’t enough.”
Despite missing out on a dream race in her home county to claim a second world title, Deignan, who only returned in the spring after taking time out to give birth, says she is content with her performance after the efforts it took to return to competition at this level. She at least was able to enjoy a moment off the front of the peloton as the race entered her home town of Otley in the opening 10km.
“I’m so proud of what I’ve been able to achieve this year,” Deignan said. “Nobody knows apart from me and my husband the work that’s gone into this… I’m more motivated than ever and enjoying myself more than ever.”
“I’m just so grateful to everybody that’s been a part of this Championships; it’s been a huge success. I said beforehand, I’ll remember this day for the rest of my career, and I will. I didn’t win. But it’s been a phenomenal day.”