Cyclist Lizzie Deignan considers retirement plans
Lizzie Deignan will let her heart decide the right time to walk away from cycling after revealing she has tentative plans to retire at the end of next season.
The 30-year-old former world champion, who returned to the peloton in April after giving birth to baby Orla last September, told Cycling News earlier this week she is likely to call it a day at the end of next season, though it is too soon to make a final decision.
Before then, Deignan is targeting the world championships on home soil in Yorkshire next month as well as next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, but she insisted it will not be the outcome of those races that determines whether she rides on or climbs off her bike.
“It wouldn’t be results based,” Deignan told PA news agency. “Definitely not, because the plan remains the same, to give everything I have for those results, whether good or bad.
“I don’t think you can do that to yourself, to continue chasing something if you’ve already given your best towards it. I’m not 20 anymore, that’s maybe something you do when you’re younger.
“It would be based on how I felt, if I was still really enjoying the job, our family situation with what Philip’s doing, how Orla is. All those things add up really.”
Deignan, who won the Women’s Tour in June just two months after her return, is in the middle of a two-year deal with Trek-Segafredo, and has no plans to enter any sort of negotiations about a contract beyond next season.
While that may change, Deignan said she has not thought further ahead than next year’s World Championships in Switzerland.
“My intentions are this year the World Championships and next year the Olympics, and definitely the World Championships after that,” she said.
“I’m not going to just hang my boots up after the Olympics. The following year my plan is to retire from professional cycling but it’s a difficult thing to commit to a year and a half out.”
Deignan said she rediscovered her love of the sport when she first returned to training after the birth of Orla, and that enthusiasm remains as strong as ever.
“I’m still really, really enjoying it,” she said. “I’m still as enthusiastic as I was when I first got back on the bike after having Orla.
“But I think it’s also nice to be able to finish when you’re still enjoying it as well. I still want to enjoy cycling as a sport and not walk away from it because I don’t enjoy it anymore.
“It would be nice to preempt that.”
The dream scenario, of course, would be for Deignan to be on the top step either in Tokyo or Switzerland next year and have the option to retire as a champion, but she insisted that would not figure in her thinking.
“I’ve done enough Olympics and World Championships to know those fairy tales are hard to come by,” she said.
“It would be family and things outside of cycling that would be the determining factors.”