By Jonny Long
Lizzie Deignan says she wasn't confident of beating Marianne Vos in the sprint finish of La Course, but the Brit combined perfectly with team-mate Elisa Longo Borghini to overcome the Dutch triple threat of Vos, world champion Annemiek van Vleuten and Demi Vollering to take the win.
"You're never confident in a sprint against Marianne Vos. Elisa played it perfectly," Deignan said after her victory. "If you want to beat Marianne you have to force her to make a mistake. And Elisa just kept pulling so that we were sure that we had the time gap. She was incredibly strong today and totally sacrificed herself for me.
"She kept pulling and then kept on doing a few sneaky moves in the last kilometers and it meant that Marianne didn't just watch me, she also had to take care of Elisa.
"Elisa then launched that final attack and it just forced Marianne to start the sprint early. I managed to just come around her at the end. It was testament to our team work that we took the victory."
Before dispensing with Vos, the Trek-Segafredo duo had to take care of Annemiek van Vleuten, following her attacks when the road went uphill.
"We knew Annemiek would have to go on that second climb and we knew that we had to be in the wheel," Deignan explained. "So we followed her and let her pace us up that climb. And then we knew as soon as we came over that with the numbers we had the advantage and we knew we could play the game."
This latest win follows Deignan's victory at GP de Plouay four days ago, and while the present is bright, the future looks even brighter, after the announcement that some sort of women's Tour de France will take place in 2022, and follows a first-ever women's Paris-Roubaix later this year.
"As an athlete, of course I want a women’s Tour de France. I want to be pushed to my limits and showcase what women's sport is about," Deignan said. "And then women's sport can be more than just one stage of course. So I think obviously there's room for development and growth. I think we're going in that direction. But at the same time, I'm happy that we had this opportunity today.
"I think we're at a really exciting time in women's cycling and I was really excited and pleased that even during the pandemic year there was good news for women’s cycling. Paris-Roubaix was added to our calendar during a very difficult year for everybody in cycling," Deignan added.
"I think that's really a testament to the fact that there are lots of people who want women’s cycling to grow and I've obviously been in the sport for quite a long time now and I feel that we're improving all the time. We’re never going backwards. I know that we always need to push for more, we can't stop, but I don't think that was going to see any regression anymore and I think that's the most important step. I think if you’re a young female cyclist now, you can really see there’s a career in professional cycling, which is very exciting."
As for the rest of the season, Deignan won't, and can't, plan any concrete goals. If the World Championships end up taking place, she will try to take a second rainbow jersey, but for now it's one race at a time.
"That's a funny question. I don't know. I think just try and benefit from this good form as long as I can. It's normal for me to try to peak at this time in the season. So it seems to be following that same sort of traditional pattern anyway.
"And obviously it would be great to have the World Championships but everything has to be safe and guaranteed to be safe, and all the rest of it. So one race at a time. Next up is the Giro Rosa and I’d like to try to pay back Elisa Longo Borghini for the amazing work she’s done. One race at a time."
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