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Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) will step away from the 2022 road racing season after announcing that she is expecting her second child.
The 2015 world road race champion, and last year’s emphatic Paris-Roubaix Femme winner — has also confirmed that the rider will return in 2023 having signed a contract extension until the end of 2024 with Trek-Segafredo.
Deignan stepped away from racing in 2018 to start a family with her husband, former pro rider, Phil Deignan. She made a return to the sport the following season and has established herself — both pre and post-pregnancy — as one of the most successful athletes in pro cycling with a career that has spanned three decades.
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“Phil and I are delighted to let everyone know that we are expecting our second child in September,” Deignan wrote in a press release issued by her team on Wednesday morning.
“Obviously having a baby is a big decision, but it wasn’t a difficult one for us. We’ve always wanted to have a big family and I think the time is right to have another child,” she added.
“Orla is ready for a sibling, I feel like I am established and able in my career to make the next step to have another child and everything behind the scenes fell into place. All the logical stuff like having a settled team and [being] settled where we live was all really good. It was an emotional, but logical decision to make our family bigger.
“Having been through the journey of having a baby and returning to the sport, I’ve realized that it is possible, and physically it’s actually easier than I expected. It’s obviously demanding and challenging on your body but it’s certainly not limiting, so that was a huge surprise after having Orla, and something that helps my decision in coming back after another baby.
“It’s the stuff around it; the family life balance that sometimes is difficult to manage, but I also think that we’re at the point now, three years after having Orla, that we know what we’re doing and we feel like we can manage more, and we actually enjoy that.”
Deignan and Trek have partnered together since 2018 when the team signed Deignan during her first pregnancy. The 33-year-old is also looking forward to returning to the sport in the future. Stepping away from the 2022 season will mean missing the Tour de France Femme this July but Deignan added that the team has stood by her and that she will look ahead to the 2024 Tour with optimism and excitement.
“It’s been quite an emotional experience, actually. Talking with Trek and telling them about my pregnancy, they gave me their complete support,” Deignan said.
“I first told Ina, my sports director, and her immediate response was ‘That’s fucking awesome, congratulations!’ That took me back, really. It meant so much to me personally to have that support. I’m a professional athlete in a professional cycling team, but the support feels very personal and I’m incredibly grateful.
“I don’t think there’s ever a perfect time to have a baby. Just like there’s never a perfect time to retire or to have an injury. There are so many things in sport that might make you miss an event, and for me, it’s the Tour de France Femmes and the commonwealth games this year. Next year it could be the first-ever women’s Milan-Sanremo, and that would be an amazing thing to take part in. I’m able to see past what I’ll miss. I’ll be there watching the girls and I’ll be right behind them. I know I’ll be envious at some points too, but it’s worth it.”
Deignan, who is also widely recognized as a figurehead and ambassador within both the peloton and women’s sport, added that motherhood should not be seen as a limiting factor or step back when it came to athletic performance or women’s sport.
“I think it’s really important that women don’t see the fact that they want to become a mother as a limiting factor in their career. Becoming a Mum has always been a dream of mine as well as being a professional athlete,” she said.
“To be able to combine the two has made me very proud. I do feel very passionate about advocating for other women to do the same. Ultimately, it’s part of a lot of women’s lives and it should be celebrated and encouraged and supported. With a flexible approach from a team, sponsors, and those around you, anything is possible. I really believe that a happy athlete is a better athlete.”