Road World Championships: Lizzie Deignan has ‘no pressure’ after appendix operation

Lizzie Deignan

Deignan (centre) won her world title under her maiden name Armitstead

Britain’s Lizzie Deignan is enjoying having “no pressure” on her for Saturday’s women’s race at the Road World Championships in Norway.

The 2015 champion had her preparations disrupted by emergency surgery to remove her appendix four weeks ago.

Deignan, 28, lost 2kg of muscle weight in 13 days of bed rest, but is the leader of Britain’s seven-strong team.

“It’s fun,” she told BBC Sport. “I’m a total unknown. My rivals won’t ignore me but they won’t know what to expect.”

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‘I’m not the same Lizzie’ after appendix surgery

The reigning Commonwealth road race champion, had to pull out of the Boels Rental Ladies Tour of Holland to undergo the operation on 30 August.

Having won the one-day GP Plouay, she headed to the Netherlands before noticing something was amiss.

“It was at about the 140km stage and I just felt so ill. I didn’t show up for dinner, someone from the team came looking for me and took me straight to hospital,” said the Yorkshire-born cyclist.

“It’s quite bizarre to be in such fine form, I was really going very well, but woke up the next day in a hospital bed.”

The unexpected surgery threatened her participation at the Worlds in Bergen but she said: “It wasn’t something I was ready to give up on.

“Every day I was analysing how I was feeling. I should have just let it go a bit but I didn’t and fought on and I’m here.”


Lizzie Deignan won the one-day GP Plouay before she headed to the Netherlands

But the recovery has taken its toll on her body and the large loss of muscle weight frustrated the cyclist.

“It’s frustrating for me because I’ve spent an awful long time in training, sacrificing other races knowing that I was building up this strength,” she said. “It takes a long time but, as I know now, you lose it very quickly.

“I’m in different shape right now, I’m not the same Lizzie I was three weeks ago.

“It’s a really bizarre feeling because normally I am so focused on logic, science and the build-up, very specific things.

“But it’s a world title and anything can happen. It’s about how much you want it, I know that from the past. It’s not always the strongest rider that wins in bike racing and normally that’s very frustrating for me but it might not be on Saturday.”

What makes the course special

Deignan is a big fan of the 152.8km race route which will see the 153 riders tackle eight laps of 19.1km around Bergen.

Each loop contains three short climbs, the toughest of which is the 1.4km ascent of Salmon Hill which has an average gradient of 6.4%.

“The course is relentless,” said Deignan.

“It’s up and down all day, there’s not really any recovery. The flat parts of the course are through a town where it’s technical, there are cobbles and the weather might come into play quite a lot. The climb is hard, eight times up Salmon Hill will take the sting out of your legs.

“It’s a racers course and I like that. It is a course that is open for attacks and aggression and there are all sorts of places on the course where you can take advantage, so I love the course.”

The GB team

Deignan will be joined in the British team by Elinor Barker, Alice Barnes, Hannah Barnes, Dani King, Mel Lowther and Hayley Simmonds.

“I think it is one of the strongest teams we’ve had coming into a World Championships,” she said.

“It’s a young team too and they have free reign, no one is going to be watching them. There are people that will keep an eye on them but they have a chance to go up the road and see what they can do, which is exciting.”

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