Lizzie Deignan’s attack on La Redoute hadn’t been planned on the team bus before Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but the way she pulled off her impressive 30km solo victory you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking it had been.
The British rider was part of a nine woman breakaway but attacked on the Côte de la Redoute, riding alone to the line in Liège as team-mate Ellen van Dijk marked their rivals in the chase group behind.
“I think the nicest thing about this team is we’re allowed to race on instinct and not to fear failure,” Deignan said after the finish. “And actually I thought ‘you know what I need to be over La Redoute before Anna, Annemiek and Elisa’, I thought it was the best thing I can do to get over it first, so I just raced on instinct.
“It was Ellen who said to me: ‘Lizzie, you have to go on La Redoute’, and I did, and didn’t look back, and I won.”
Deignan wins La Doyenne on her third participation, the race only having existed for the women’s peloton since 2017, and she betters her runner-up place that year with the top step of the podium in what has been a great run of form for the Trek-Segafredo rider.
“It’s pretty special, we’ve been waiting to win a Classic like this and I think we’ve been almost there so many times,” Deignan explained. “It’s special to win a Classic, it’s the first kind of really big win I’ve had [since coming back] so I’m really happy.”
In the closing kilometres Deignan managed to avoid the clutches of Mitchelton-Scott’s Grace Brown, the Australian detaching from the chase group with 16km and getting within nine seconds of the Brit.
“Horrible, really horrible,” Deignan says of knowing that Brown was breathing down her neck on the run-in to the finish. “In the end, I decided to try and chase the motorbikes in front of me rather than think about her behind me because mentally it’s just wrecking you if you think like that. I knew she would descend faster than me, I knew she had that advantage, so I was just praying the line would come quicker.
“[I knew I had won] In the last 500 meters. It was really close, she was coming up really hot behind me and I knew how good of a time trialist she is and I was getting more and more legless.”
Lizzie Deignan has picked up a number of impressive wins since racing returned after lockdown, starting with GP de Plouay and then taking the La Course title back in August.