Lizzie Deignan, who won road race silver at the London 2012 Olympics, has ruled out retirement at the end of the year after seeing the cycling calendar decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Deignan, who gave birth to daughter Orla in September 2017, had last year floated the possibility this could be her final season as a professional as she targeted one final Olympics and also one more attempt to regain the world road race title she won in 2015.
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But even before Tuesday’s confirmation that Tokyo 2020 will be delayed by up to 12 months, Deignan had made up her mind to keep racing.
“Since I had my daughter, I’ve only raced 21 days but I’ve done an awful lot of training,” Deignan told the PA news agency. “To think that would be the end now this season, I wouldn’t be happy to stop and not be able to race another spring.
“I love the spring classics, that’s why I’m a bike rider, so I don’t think retirement is on the cards, even more so after this.”
Having predicted it would happen even before the IOC’s announcement, Deignan has welcomed the decision to postpone this year’s Olympics in Tokyo, and has promised to target them all over again 12 months later.
“I have the motivation and optimism to carry me through to an Olympics in 2021,” the 31-year-old said. “What a special Games that will be.”
Deignan added that the lack of racing has helped remind her just how much she enjoys it.
“I miss it a lot,” the Trek-Segafredo rider said. “I love racing. In training now, I’m frustrated. I may not feel like it off the bike but my feelings always come out more on the bike and I see the frustration in my training rides.
“But it’s not about me and my cycling, that’s tiny. What’s surprised me in this crisis is just how impactful sport is on the general population. My friends are telling me how much they are missing sport on the TV. I didn’t realise just how impactful it is on everyday life.
“Lots of people are missing professional sport so I definitely appreciate more that I am a professional sportsperson and I will do even more so when we get to race.”