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Lizzie Deignan took her first victory since returning to pro cycling from maternity leave on Friday, winning the fifth stage of the OVO Women’s Tour.
Deignan out sprinted Katarzyna Niewiadoma in the waning meters of the 140km stage, which finished in Builth Wells, Wales.
“I can’t quite really describe it; it was probably the nicest win I’ve had in a very long time,” Deignan said. “I really savored it and really enjoyed it and I will do for a long time.”
With her victory Deignan grabbed enough bonus seconds to take the overall race lead from German rider Liane Lippert (Sunweb). She now sits in the lead with one stage remaining, one second ahead of Niewiadoma.
The victory marks Deignan’s first UCI Women’s WorldTour win since August 2017. In early 2018 Deignan announced she was stepping away from pro cycling due to pregnancy. In September 2018 she and her husband, Philip, welcomed a daughter, Orla. Deignan returned in 2019 as a leader of the new Trek-Segafredo Women’s WorldTour team. She skipped the cobblestone classics, and made her racing return at Amstel Gold Race for the hilly classics.
“I’ve doubted my comeback every day probably since the day she [her daughter Orla] was born but I’ve had incredible support from my family, particularly my husband, who has been with me every step of the way,” Deignan said. “I definitely thought about him on the finish line today.”
Deignan made steady progression in her races back, recording promising finishes at the recent Amgen Tour of California empowered with SRAM race. Deignan then showed she was on top form during the early stages of the OVO Women’s Tour. She was second on the race’s second stage, which vaulted her into the top three on general classification.
The winning move in Friday’s stage came with 20km to go when Deignan broke away with Niewiadoma and teammate Elisa Longo Borghini on a steep QOM climb. The trio worked together to hold off the charging peloton. Longo Borghini led the trio down the final finishing straight, and Deignan was able to hold of Niewiadoma in the sprint to the line.
“I probably went a little bit early in the sprint but it was good in the end because I think I had maybe a second on Kasia in the finish,” Deignan said. “It’s hard to judge a finish that you’ve never seen before. But thank you very much to Elisa, because it was down to her that we made it to the finish with such a gap.”
The race concludes Saturday with a hilly 125.9km stage from Carmarthen to Pembrey County Park.