'I stand up and there's nothing in my legs': race radio playback shows Lizzie Deignan's battle for Women's Tour lead

Radio replay shows Deignan's confidence was wavering on the slopes of the Queen stage

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lizzie Deignan announced her return to the sharp end of racing last week, winning the Ovo Energy Women's Tour, nine months after the birth of her first child Orla. But a candid radio replay shows how hard she had to dig for victory.

The former world champion attacked with her Trek-Segafredo team mate, Elisa Longo-Borghini.

They took with them only Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) - who Deignan was able to dispatch in the sprint for the line on stage five, before finishing ahead the following day. 

From TV screens, Deignan's winning move on the incline of stage five's final climb, Wale's Epynt, looked effortlessly powerful. But the authentically gritty radio playback shows the 30-year-old was anything but assured of success.

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"I stand up and there's nothing in my legs. I'm empty of sugar and I can't eat enough.

"If they really go, I will not be able to go, I think," Deignan agonised into the radio.

Deignan was speaking to Team DS and prolific sprinter, Ina Teutenberg, before the winning move - as the reduced peloton wrestled with the Queen stage of the hilliest ever edition of the race.

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Deignan has been on the comeback trail since selecting April's Amstel Gold Race as her first ride in anger since her season-plus long break, and the Women's Tour marked a new goalpost in distance.

"[It was] first stage race of the season and my first stage race in over two years, so I really was expecting to feel worse and worse."

"In the beginning, I felt terrible. I told my team mates I felt terrible, and every single one of them came to me and gave me some words of encouragement," Deignan explains in a video produced by sponsor SRAM.

Describing the stage which saw her propelled from the Best British Rider to the leader's jersey, she adds: "Abi [Van Twisk] went back to the car and got me a coke, and gels and sweets.

"[Team DS] Ina was doing her best psychology in the radio as well. I just thought 'I'm not going to give up, I'm here for a reason, I'm going to keep fighting'."

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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.

Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor. 

Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.

Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.