Lizzie Deignan expecting second child, will miss 2022 racing season

Paris-Roubaix winner to return in 2023 and has extended contract to 2024 with Trek-Segafredo

Lizzie Deignan
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lizzie Deignan is pregnant and will miss the 2022 season, her team Trek-Segafredo announced on Wednesday.

The Paris-Roubaix winner and former world champion is expecting her second child with her husband Phil, and said that it was an "emotional but logical decision".

The 33-year old will return to racing in 2023 with Trek, and has signed an extension to her contract which means she will keep racing until at least 2024.

Deignan missed the 2018 season during her first pregnancy with her daughter Orla, and returned to racing in 2019, winning the Women's Tour. Her partner Phil is a former Irish professional cyclist who last rode for Team Sky.

In a statement released by Trek-Segafredo on Wednesday, the rider from Yorkshire said: "Obviously having a baby is a big decision, but it wasn’t a difficult one for us. We’ve always wanted to have a big family and I think the time is right to have another child.

“Orla is ready for a sibling, I feel like I am established and able in my career to make the next step to have another child and everything behind the scenes fell into place. All the logical stuff like having a settled team and settled where we live was all really good. It was an emotional, but logical decision to make our family bigger.”

The news will undoubtedly weaken Trek in a big year for women's cycling, with the first Tour de France Femmes on the horizon, but Deignan made it clear that they have given her "complete support".

“It’s been quite an emotional experience, actually. Talking with Trek and telling them about my pregnancy, they gave me their complete support,” she said. “I first told Ina, my Sports Director, and her immediate response was ‘That’s f***ing awesome, congratulations!’ That took me back, really. 

"It meant so much to me personally to have that support. I’m a professional athlete in a professional cycling team, but the support feels very personal and I’m incredibly grateful.”

Deignan won the first edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes in October, and has won pretty much all the biggest women's races, from the Women's Tour to Liège-Bastogne-Liège, via La Course. She said that she still has "plenty to give", hence extending her contract with Trek.

“I feel like I still have plenty to give from an athletic standpoint. For me, it was always obvious that if we were able to have another baby then I would still return to cycling,” Deignan said. 

“I never expected to continue my career through not just one, but two pregnancies, but actually there’s been so many examples now of successful women returning to the sport, and especially older women returning to the sport. I don’t think the same stereotype of athletes retiring at 30 in their prime is necessarily true anymore.”

Deignan is not the only British cyclist to take a break from cycling due to pregnancy, with Elinor Barker and Dame Sarah Storey also doing similar.

She said that she would draw on her previous experience to return to cycling after having her second child.

“Having been through the journey of having a baby and returning to the sport, I’ve realised that it is possible, and physically it’s actually easier than I expected," Deignan said. "It’s obviously demanding and challenging on your body but it’s certainly not limiting, so that was a huge surprise after having Orla, and something that helps my decision in coming back after another baby. 

"It’s the stuff around it; the family life balance that sometimes is difficult to manage, but I also think that we’re at the point now, three years after having Orla, that we know what we’re doing and we feel like we can manage more, and we actually enjoy that.”

The news also means that she will miss this year's Commonwealth Games, as well as the first Tour.

She has previously said that the inaugural editions will be a "massive goal" for everyone, she said. "Not just the individual riders but the teams and the sponsors. They're expecting a lot there so we have to plan a bit differently."

"I don’t think there’s ever a perfect time to have a baby," she explained on Wednesday. "Just like there’s never a perfect time to retire or to have an injury. There’s so many things in sport that might make you miss an event, and for me it’s the Tour de France Femmes and the Commonwealth Games this year. 

"Next year it could be the first ever women’s Milan-Sanremo, and that would be an amazing thing to take part in. I’m able to see past what I’ll miss. I’ll be there watching the girls and I’ll be right behind them. I know I’ll be envious at some points too, but it’s worth it.”

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