BERGEN, Norway (AFP) — Former world champion Lizzie Deignan admitted she has no idea what form she will be in when the women’s world championship road race begins on Saturday, having had emergency appendix surgery less than a month ago.
The 28-year-old was rushed to hospital following the opening stage of the Tour of Holland on August 30 after falling ill. “Someone from the team came looking for me (in their hotel) and took me straight to the hospital and they took me in for an emergency operation,” said Deignan, the 2015 world champion.
She had her appendix removed and since then she’s simply been trying desperately to recover in time for a tilt at a second rainbow jersey.
“It’s quite bizarre to be in such fine form — I was really going quite well — to wake up the next day in a hospital bed to think ‘right that’s it, it’s over’,” she told the BBC on Friday.
Despite not riding for two weeks and losing two kilograms of muscle, Deignan was determined to make the start line in Bergen, Norway. “I just had this small bit of hope that I could make it here and it wasn’t something I was ready to give up on,” she said.
“That’s frustrating for me because I’d spent an awfully long time in training sacrificing other races knowing that I was building up this strength that takes a long time.
“As I know now, you can lose it very quickly.”
What’s also galling for the Briton, a silver medallist at the London 2012 Olympics, was that she felt the 152.8km course was ideally suited to her. “I did a recon (reconnaissance) in May and saw the circuit and thought: ‘it’s perfect for me’.
“My career’s coming slowly to an end — I’ve got a few more years in me yet– but I know if I looked back in a few years I’d definitely regret not giving it a go.”
Last year, Deignan came close to missing out on the Rio Olympics, where she finished fifth, after missing three doping tests.
She only avoided a ban after successfully applying to the Court of Arbitration for Sport that her first missed test was the fault of testing authorities rather than her.
Her major rivals on Saturday will likely be Dutch in the form of Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen, new world time-trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten and three-time world champion and London 2012 gold medallist Marianne Vos.