01 November 2019

Lizzie Deignan slams Tour de France organisers for not being 'interested or passionate' about women's cycling

British rider Lizzie Deignan has blasted Tour de France organisers for not being 'interested or passionate' in women's cycling.

Her outburst comes after the route for next year's La Course - the one-day race during the men's three-week event - was revealed.

"They need to have passion and they don't have that for women's cycling. That's the honest truth," she said.

"The writing is on the wall. There's no elephant in the room, that is the fact, they're not interested in it. They feel like they're pushed into it."

The 2020 race will see riders tackle a 90km course consisting of nine laps around the Champs-Elysees in Paris, taking the race back to where the inaugural edition was held in 2014 when Marianne Vos won.

But Deignan, who came second behind Annemiek van Vleuten in 2017, believes the organisers - Amaury Sport Organisation - have failed to move the women's event on and are showing that they ultimately do not care.

She said: "Do it properly or don't bother."

La Course is scheduled to take place on July 19, the same day as the men's final stage of the Tour.

Lizzie Deignan was speaking at the Rouleur Classic in London ahead of the launch of her team Trek-Segafredo's new kit

"As a rider going to La Course the world's media are there and it's a really hard thing to answer productively because you don't want to be negative, but that is the reality," Deignan added.

One of Britain's best ever women's road riders, the Trek Segafredo rider returned to cycling in 2019 after taking a year out to give birth to her daughter Orla in September 2018.

When she came back to the sport she targeted a second world road race title as her major goal as the championships were being held in her home county of Yorkshire, the first time the race had been hosted in the UK since 1982.

However, despite the 30-year-old's best efforts, she could do nothing to prevent The Netherlands' Van Vleuten from attacking with over 100km to go and claiming the rainbow jersey.

Despite the disappointment, Deignan saw the positives in having finished 31st in the world road race championships almost a year to the day after giving birth.

"It was just so emotional. I'd thought about that moment, that day for so long in training and I'd got into the best shape I could be," she said.

"For me it was crossing the line and seeing my husband and daughter there and thinking 'bloody hell, we did it! Let's all have a rest!'" because it was an epic year. 

Lizzie at the Yorkshire event with husband Philip and daughter Orla (PA Images)

"We'd become parents. There were so many challenges behind the scenes so I thought 'well, I didn't win but we got here'."

Immediately after the race the 2015 world champion was quizzed as to whether or not she would be retiring from the sport, with many alluding to her giving birth as a possible strain on her sporting career.

But Deignan dismissed the rumours and said she believes she wouldn't have even been racing if she hadn't had the time out to fall in love with cycling again.

"I probably wouldn't be riding my bike. I was over it. I just wasn't enjoying riding my bike anymore, I was just going through the motions.

"For me the biggest advantage of stepping away from professional sport to have my daughter was that I now love my job again."

The British rider's main goal for 2020 is the Olympic road race in Tokyo, something she will base her training throughout the winter around.

And while there are people who will continue to doubt whether she can hit the heights of a few years ago, Deignan is solely focused on her own performance and trying to improve even more, because she feels she will have to in order to succeed.

"I'm used to that. My whole career, if I'm going well it's great, but if you're not winning then it's like 'oh no, what's happened?'

"You kind of get used to it and just focus on what you believe and what your trajectory is, what your goals are.

"I'm as strong as I've ever been, but the women's peloton has gotten stronger. So, power-wise and weight-wise I'm exactly where I was in 2015, but I need to be stronger than I was."

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