Lizzie Deignan spoke of her pride in the Great Britain Cycling Team’s performance after she put in a typically gritty performance in the elite women’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships today, as the Netherlands’ Annamiek van Vleuten claimed a sensational solo victory.
Deignan gave the huge Harrogate crowds plenty to cheer as she battled to reel in runaway leader van Vleuten, ultimately crossing the line in the main bunch as 20-year-old Anna Henderson registered Britain’s highest-placed finish.
Deignan’s knowledge of the Yorkshire roads served her well in the opening stages, but van Vleuten’s devastating attack on the Lofthouse climb saw her surge away from the peloton and build a lead that she never looked like relinquishing.
The Dutchwoman was out on her own for around 100km – an exceptional performance which rightly earned her the acclaim of the Yorkshire masses.
Behind her, Deignan did much of the work on the front of the chasing group, but an attack from the USA’s time trial world champion Chloe Dygert Owen saw Deignan’s workload begin to tell, as she fell away from what became a chasing group of four.
As van Vleuten’s procession to rainbow stripes continued, Dygert Owen was overhauled and eventually finished fourth, with Anna van der Breggen completing a Dutch one-two and Australia’s Amanda Spratt winning bronze.
Henderson – already a team time trial medallist in her debut road world championships – was 22nd, Deignan 31st, Hannah Barnes and Alice Barnes 62nd and 63rd respectively, and Nikki Juniper 80th. Lizzy Banks did not finish after suffering a series of mechanicals in the early stages.
Afterwards, Deignan said:
“I’m exhausted, but super proud of the team effort. The team put on an incredible performance – Anna Henderson had a phenomenal ride, Nikki Juniper put us in a superb position early on as well. Everyone gave their all. We came here for gold and we didn’t get it, but we gave it our best.”
“Lizzie is a year out from having her baby – that’s phenomenal, and to have that amount of pressure…we couldn’t go anywhere this week without her having a camera put in her face, and to deal with that is just amazing. She’s my world champion.”
The final race of the championships – the elite men’s road race – takes place tomorrow, with Geraint Thomas, Ben Swift, Owain Doull, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Ian Stannard and Adam Yates set to line up for Great Britain.