PA Sport

Plenty more to come from Lizzie Deignan

Plenty more to come from Lizzie Deignan
By PA Sport

17/04/2017 at 07:30

Lizzie Deignan is far from finished.

Lizzie Deignan is far from finished.

The former world champion, known as Armitstead until her marriage to fellow cyclist Phil Deignan last September, is targeting the Road World Championships in her native Yorkshire in 2019.

That could be the swansong for the 28-year-old Otley racer, who had raised the prospect of retirement previously but now wants to go on at least until Yorkshire becomes the global focal point for world cycling once again.

"I'll take each season as it comes, but yes, it's definitely an enticing opportunity," Deignan told Press Association Sport.

"When I actually think about the reality of the championship day, how massive that will be in Yorkshire... it will just be so big. The atmosphere, the opportunity there.

"If I was sitting on the couch watching it, I think I'd regret it."

Deignan has no regrets about her career to date, nor over her successful challenge over three missed drugs tests which left her facing a two-year ban.

When news of her successful appeal seeped out prior to the Rio Olympics after the Court of Arbitration for Sport threw out UK Anti-Doping's charge, many questioned whether Deignan should take to the Olympic start line at all.

Then the reigning world champion, she had been among the favourites for Olympic gold on Copacabana Beach. After a disrupted, agonising build-up, she finished fifth.

Some say her reputation is forever tarnished, that the world title won in Richmond, Virginia in September 2015, should come with an asterisk.

Others point to the mitigating circumstances - she reveals in her autobiography Steadfast that her third 'whereabouts failure' came when she was in Ireland as her future father in law had terminal cancer - and point to the fact she has never tested positive for drugs.

Deignan is aware of the damage to her reputation, but says it matters not.

"I'm not too concerned about it," she added.

"As long as I'm doing what I want to do and I'm passionate about, and riding my bike for the very reasons that I started riding my bike, then I suppose the other stuff will take care of itself."

Deignan was Britain's first medal winner of the glorious summer of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

She claimed silver on The Mall in a gripping road race and had hoped to upgrade her place on the podium four years later.

Asked whether now she might consider continuing until Tokyo 2020, she said: "Never say never, but I'd always envisaged that Rio would be my last Olympics."

Olympic gold may prove elusive, but Deignan is targeting at least one more world title before she hangs up her cycling cleats, with September's Road World Championships in Bergen, Norway and the Yorkshire event two years later likely to take place on routes which suit her characteristics.

"If it came in Yorkshire, that'd be nice, but Norway would be nice too," she added.

One of the most vocal critics of Deignan's missed tests was Sir Bradley Wiggins.

The five-time Olympic champion and 2012 Tour de France winner described the situation as "ludicrous" and "ridiculous" in an interview with The Guardian last September, prior to becoming involved in controversy himself.

Russian hackers the Fancy Bears revealed Wiggins had three therapeutic use exemptions for triamcinolone, a powerful corticosteroid otherwise banned.

Wiggins insists they were medically necessary and also denies wrongdoing over a package delivered to him in June 2011 at the conclusion of the Criterium du Dauphine race he won.

The package is central to a UKAD investigation which is ongoing and there is no documentation to confirm its contents, Team Sky and UKAD have said. Team Sky, Wiggins' team at the time, admit mistakes were made but deny wrongdoing.

Deignan declined the opportunity to respond to Wiggins, but given her husband rides for Team Sky there could be implications for the couple. Team Sky's long term future remains in doubt.

"I think it's irrelevant whatever comes out of the investigation. Of course, people are going to have doubts," Deignan added.

"And that is a shame, because I don't think it's a fair reflection of a lot of the work and sacrifice that a lot of people have put in to making the sport what it is today in the UK."

Deignan railed against sexism in cycling after claiming Olympic silver, but, now based in Monaco for the climate and training opportunities, is detached from British Cycling.

She did not contribute to the independent review into the culture of British Cycling's world-class performance programme, which will have been going for a year by the time it reports next month.

She added: "It was never about sexism. It was about being a road rider, following my own path.

"It was more about being in control."

:: Steadfast by Lizzie Armitstead out April 20 RRP £20 (Blink Publishing)

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