Lizzie Deignan and her young British teammates were omnipresent in the women’s Champs du Monde road race. In the end, Deignan finished the 157.7 km from Antwerp to Louvain in 14th position, but is generally satisfied with the way things were going.
“I was really happy with the way I rode,” Deignan told CyclingTips after the finish. âTactically, I continued to put myself in good positions, and [I had] Phenomenal teammates of Pfeiffer Georgi and Anna Henderson. I just missed the legs at the end and that’s how it is, it’s a bike race.
With Deignan as their protected rider, the British were one of the teams to take responsibility for the pace from the start, and once the attacks were launched Pfeiffer Georgi and Anna Henderson were instrumental. But even with teammates to get the job done, it was a constant effort to maintain position and keep in touch.
“It was like a criterium after 160 km at the end of a difficult season,” said Deignan. âAt every turn there were motorcycles so the top ten probably rushed out of the turn. If you were further than that, you were just hunting. I looked down and was driving 60 km / h out of the corner. There was a lot of damage and it was difficult to just ride the wheels. Even moving up in rank was really difficult because the speed was so high. “
There was a flurry of repeated attacks towards the end of the event, and while the formidable Netherlands team were all over the place, Deignan is sure they had their minds set on a sprint. And yet it might have been a mistake to allow so many Italians to ride with them to the line.
“As soon as the Dutch drove so defensively over Overijse [97 km into the race], I was like ‘yes, it’s going to come in the sprint’ “, explained Deignan.” I expected them to use their strength a little better in the climbs. I was surprised to see them not do it because if you sniff a sprint to the Italians in a world championship, they’re going to take it because they execute it so well.
And execute it, they did. Elisa Longo Borghini took her 23-year-old team-mate – a future Deignan team-mate as well, Elisa Balsamo having signed with Trek-Segafredo for 2022 – who resisted the three-time world champion from the Netherlands Marianne Vos. Deignan returned to the peloton a second later.