An emotional comeback victory for Lizzie Deignan

Deignan wins stage five at the Ovo Energy Women's Tour and overtakes the race lead with one stage remaining.

It was a thrilling queen stage at the Ovo Energy Women’s Tour that played out to plan for Trek-Segafredo with Lizzie Deignan winning a two-up sprint against Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) and claiming the race lead. It was Deignan’s first win since returning to competition this spring after missing last season to give birth to her daughter Orla.

The 140-kilometer race blew apart on the biggest climb of the race with 21 kilometers remaining when Deignan attacked with teammate Elisa Longo Borghini, and only Niewiadoma could follow. The trio held a small margin over the last kilometers and successfully fended off the chase to contest the win. Deignan out-gunned Niewiadoma after a lead-out from teammate Longo Borghini, who finished in third.

An emotional Deignan crossed the finish, winning the queen stage and also overtaking Niewiadoma for the race lead by one second with one stage remaining Saturday.

The win felt very emotional. It’s a comeback after becoming a mom; finding my feet again in cycling has been difficult. Obviously, there’s always been questions whether I made the right decision, but today was massive validation for that. My husband has been my rock, and I thought of him when I crossed the line.

Deignan continued: “I would not have believed you if you said I would be in the leader’s jersey after today. It’s just all coming together and racing with Elisa has been fun. I always knew we would be good teammates, we complement each other’s racing styles really well, and it has just been about me getting that race fitness back and then gelling with Elisa.”

Breakaways animated most of the race, but Trek-Segafredo’s plan laid on the biggest climb of the day, and they played a patient game with the tough parcours.

“It was brutal; the whole race was up and down,”  said Deignan. “It played into our favor that that breakaway went away, and we had no one in it, as we didn’t feel it was our job to bring it back. We have done a lot of work this week, Anna (Plichta) and Abi (Van Twisk) have done a fantastic job all week, and we felt it was good to give them a day off.  Sunweb and Canyon-SRAM needed to take responsibility today.”

The climbs were relentless in stage 5.

It was on the last categorized climb that Deignan put the team’s pre-race plan into action with Longo Borghini, and race leader Niewiadoma was the only rider able to match the acceleration of the two Trek-Segafredo teammates.

Deignan explained: “I kept looking over at Elisa (Longo Borghini), and she kept looking back at me. We had an instinct, and that’s something that’s developing, we are still new to racing with each other. It was one look and I went and she came, and Kasia (Niewiadoma) could also follow.

“It was tough going, a typical Welsh climb: exposed and grippy and long. We knew there would be a stiff climb, uncategorized, after it, and it was great to have been given that insight and know that was coming. The launch was on the [categorized] climb, but where we made the difference was on that steep section after.”

Lizzie Deignan looks back at Kasia Niewiadoma with 100 meters to the top of Epynt, the final QOM climb on Stage 5.

The attack splintered what remained of the peloton, and Longo Borghini took up the bulk of the work over the next 20 kilometers in the leading trio. It was never sure they would make it with a small but strong chasing group never far behind.

Ina said we could go for a stage win for me or the GC for Lizzie, and for me, there was no decision. I replied straight away that I wanted Lizzie in green no matter what. I wanted to get the jersey because as a team we really deserved it.

- Elisa

Inside the last 10 kilometers, the gap held steady at just over 20 seconds and was still 14 seconds with one kilometer remaining – enough for the trio to play for the win. With Longo Borghini leading into the last kilometer, Deignan had a perfect launching pad.

“I brought her in a good position for the sprint. She’s very fast, and she practically delivers a victory every time when she’s sprinting – it’s a pleasure to work with someone like this! We went for it, and I am really happy that we succeeded today!” exclaimed Longo Borghini.

I was just thinking about the finish line; you don’t really look behind at that point. It obviously was for the GC and every second counts, but in that time, I was thinking about the stage, to be honest.

- Lizzie

It was an emotional first victory this year for Lizzie Deignan.

Elisa Longo-Borghini celebrates her teammate winning Stage 5.

Elisa Longo Borghini and Lizzie Deignan celebrate the win.

With one stage remaining and a one-second lead over Niewiadoma, the race is not over.

“That’s the problem with the leader’s jersey, you have to think about tomorrow! I don’t know [what our plan will be], that’s Ina (Teutenberg, director) responsibility, I have done my bit today,” laughed Deignan, then added: “I never ever envisioned coming into the Tour in this situation. We will definitely miss Trixi Worrack. It’s a real blow to lose her as she’s a great road captain, and she would have been really valuable tomorrow. We will obviously fight until the end tomorrow.”

Ina Teutenberg added:

“Plans don’t often work out like it did today where it comes together 100 percent. We had a couple mistakes yesterday, learned from them, and did everything better today. I am proud of this team. We are ready for the challenge tomorrow!”


View a photo gallery from stages 1-3 here.

Lizzie Deignan (GBR) is the new race leader after Stage 5.

Lizzie Deignan also leads the points classification.

And, of course, is the best British rider.