Lizzie Deignan has been nominated for The Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year after reversing her decision to retire this year.
Speaking to the newspaper in an extensive interview, she acknowledged the pressure that comes with coronavirus hanging over the remaining events in this season’s schedule.
“We were all just taking it race by race,” she said of the restart.
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“Even though it’s jam-packed, we were listening to the rumour mill of whether races will be on because of the situation with coronavirus. Nobody was really sure. Everyone was racing every race like it’s their last, which is a bit intense.”
Deignan has three major victories already in this abridged and condensed season - at GP Plouay, La Course, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Becoming one of the best riders in the world means a lot to the Briton.
“It makes me quite proud,” she explained.
“It was never an original goal of mine — it’s been a bit organic, how it’s happened.”
Highlights as Deignan wins women's Liege-Bastogne-Liege
This season is even more of a surprise for the 31-year-old rider. She had intended to retire after the 2020 Olympics but that plan has been shelved. Such is her resurgence that she may completely reconsider the notion of walking away.
“I just realised I was really enjoying my job," she explained.
“Having my husband retire before me, I see that it’s not that easy. To retire, you really need to be ready for it and not have any regrets. I think if I had made this my last season, I probably would have regretted it.”
Her plans to train for the Oympics were ultimately dashed and instead she has recalibrated for this new season on the roads.
“It didn’t mean I was going to start focusing on the World Championships, because the original course in Switzerland was just going to be too mountainous for me.
“I’d already written it off and focused my training on the Tour of Flanders and the classics, more like two, three-minute all-out efforts.”
That training has had to accommodate a relentless amount of events, with one after the other.
“The races are very back-to-back and the season has completely shifted. I signed a contract knowing I’d race every other weekend and have a certain amount of time at home and I never expected I would have to spend three to four weeks away from Orla [her daughter].
“The team have been very understanding of that and allowed me to go home. I’m very lucky...I don’t think I’d have been able to cope if I hadn’t been.”
Looking to the future, Deignan is looking to continue leading and contributing with her experience.
“I will always give my honest opinion and never shy away for pushing for more. Otherwise change will never happen.”