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At 32, having won an Olympic medal, world championships on the road and track, and an impressive list of other events like the Tour of Flanders, Lizzie Deignan is one of the most experienced and accomplished riders in the pro peloton. Fresh off of the road world championships, the English rider joins Bobby & Jens this week in the run up to the first ever women’s Paris-Roubaix.
After a disappointing finish at worlds, she’s excited to take on the cobbles of Roubaix. “I just can’t wait to race,” she says, describing the event as likely to be wet and full of crashes. As with classics like the Tour of Flanders, she says it will be a real challenge and a battle that you have to be prepared for—exactly the kind of race she likes. “I’m really excited about the battlefield aspect of it.”
That characterization is no exaggeration. As co-host Jens Voigt, who raced Roubaix twice and finished once, puts it, “this is going to be the closest you ever come to being like a gladiator in the arena.”
A women’s Roubaix is just the latest checkpoint in an ongoing list for growing women’s cycling. Having been a pro now for over a decade, Lizzie has seen the sport of women’s cycling grow incredibly in her time. But more reforms are needed for the sport in order for it to reach its full potential, including the addition of a U23 category. “When I started, when I jumped from junior to senior, the jump was not as big as it is now,” she says. Every year, because of the way the sport is developing, it’s becoming more professional. It’s getting harder and harder. And the jump now between junior and senior is massive.” She also offers advice for up and coming athletes.
But cycling wasn’t always on Lizzie’s radar. She discusses how she got started on the track as a kid, finding herself in a sport which she admittedly once thought was for old men. “[The velodrome] is a scary place but it teaches you how to ride a bike really well,” she says.
Now a wife and mom, the responsibilities in her life have grown tremendously. Find out how they impact her life as a professional cyclist.
And Lizzie also reveals the aspect of professional bike racing she loves the most.
Listen to the latest episode of Bobby & Jens for the full conversation.
“Bobby & Jens” is a weekly VeloNews podcast brought to you by Zwift. It stars former pros Bobby Julich and Jens Voigt and features conversations with top athletes, coaches, emerging stars, and other newsmakers from the wide world of cycling. A new episode drops every Friday. Subscribe now wherever you get your podcasts.