In a corner of the guests’ lounge at the Yorkshire Event Centre, Lizzie Deignan rocks baby Orla.
The former world champion may have only given birth less than a month earlier, but she is keen to fulfil her role as ambassador to Cycle Expo Yorkshire, particularly in the run-up to 2019 worlds taking place in the country where she grew up.
At the same time as bringing a new baby into the World, Deignan also brought us her new clothing line, Lizzie x Santini. On top of all this, she is gradually preparing to race with her new team, Trek-Segafredo.
Rouleur: How does it feel being a new mum?
Lizzie Deignan: It’s very overwhelming, incredible, very different from anything I’ve felt before, or done before. We’re [Lizzie and husband Philip Deignan] both loving it and thoroughly enjoying it. These first few weeks have flown by, so it’s not even been like I’ve had the chance to think about how I feel really. It’s just about reacting to what Orla needs. But she’s very good at feeding and sleeping, and she’s a very calm baby. So far, so good.
Have you developed a routine?
I will have a routine, but right now you can’t really push a newborn into a routine. I will wait until she’s about 6 weeks old before I think about a feeding pattern or a sleeping pattern, so it’s really about just what she needs at the moment. That’s good for me because it means I can take the time to recover properly as well.
How much sport did you do while you were pregnant?
I trained all the way through. I was on my bike right up until about three days before Orla was born, though I was going very gently. It was nothing intense, just riding my bike for general fitness, keeping active and healthy – nothing serious. I didn’t do any intervals for nine months.
Did you climb the Cow and Calf?
Oh yeah, I was still riding up the local hills, and also the ones in the south of France. Yeah, I was going up Col de la Madone and everything, but just slowly. It was very good for me. And good for my mental health.
Do you now have cyclist mother-and-baby get-togethers with people like Laura Kenny and Sarah Storey?
You know what, everyone is so busy as a professional athlete, and having a newborn baby on top of that means that you’re double busy so there’s definitely been no mother’s meetings! I know that if I need to, I can reach out to them though.
Laura’s been lovely and very kind. And Sarah’s been great from a technical perspective because she coaches herself as well, and she’s given me some pointers on things like breast-feeding, and how training is affected by that. So yeah, I’ve got the advice that I need and help there. Plus I’ve got my sister. She’s a supermum – she works alongside having two young kids, so she’s been able to give me tips as well.
What are your racing plans now that Orla’s here?
We’re seeing how things pan out. I am hoping to be back racing by June at the very latest. I’m going to be realistic and give myself time to get my fitness back to a level I’m happy with, and it’ll take some time. I am looking forward to seeing everyone at Trek Factory Racing in Sicily in December when we have our training camp. So that’ll be exciting being in a team with some very experienced racers like Ellen van Dijk, Trixi Worrack, and Elisa Longo Borghini.
About 18 months ago, you were talking about retirement dates, now you seem to have a renewed energy. What has changed that?
It would have been a stretch for me to continue racing without having Orla and without having a break from professional cycling. I wanted to have a baby, and I wanted to have a break from professional sport. I’d been in it for 15 years and having done the same races with the same team with the same goals that I’ve already reached was becoming difficult for me. But I’ve loved having this break and it’s made me realise how much I love my job. And I’ve got this little mascot to take with me along the way now! It was a really good decision for me to take a break.
What are your thoughts on the world road race championships being in Yorkshire?
It is amazing having these races right in the area where I grew up. I know the Lofthouse climb, so that really helps. When I won the Tour de Yorkshire stage a couple of years ago with my family there it was really special, and winning the Worlds in Richmond [Virginia, not Yorkshire] was amazing too. So a World Championships right near my home is too good an opportunity to miss.
And are you thinking of Tokyo 2020?
Yes. I want to give it one last try for Olympic gold – if I finish my career with just a silver I can still be proud of it. Getting silver at London 2012 was one of the most special times in my life, though I still want to have a go at a gold medal.
And you’ll get a white Magnum [ice cream] as well if you win?
Oh yes, I always like a white Magnum after a race! Wherever I go in the world I can usually find one.
Lizzie Deignan will be appearing with her new Trek Women’s Team at the Rouleur Classic on November 2