Lizzie Deignan says she is enjoying cycling more than ever after becoming the first rider to win the Women's Tour twice, just nine months after giving birth to her daughter.
Deignan, who won road race silver at the London 2012 Olympics as part of Team GB, crossed the line in the pack on the final stage to claim overall victory by two seconds, ahead of Poland’s Kasia Niewiadoma.
The Trek-Segafredo cyclist, who last won the Women’s Tour in 2016, only returned from maternity leave in April after giving birth to her daughter Orla in September 2018.
The title is the first for Deignan since returning to action and adds to an impressive list of honours including becoming road race world champion in 2015 and Commonwealth champion in 2014.
“It means a huge amount,” Deignan commented after her victory.
“I think the last time I came here I was probably one of the favourites to win the race and this time I wasn’t a favourite, so it was a different experience. It was totally a team experience.
“I won through just grit and determination. I’m away from my daughter for a reason. I’m here to do a job and I’ve got a fantastic team around me. I don’t want to let them down.”
The 30-year-old’s momentous win in Wales is also the smallest margin in the event’s history, and comes after a dramatic 2019 competition.
Otley-born Deignan out-sprinted 2017 champion Niewiadoma and Elisa Longo Borghini to win stage five on Friday and lead the general classification by just one second going into the final day.
Dutch rider Amy Pieters claimed the sixth and final stage from Carmarthen to Pembrey Country Park but Deignan’s eighth-place finish, along with a bonus second in an intermediate sprint, saw her extend the overall lead by a further second.
“It’s a huge honour,” she added. “I’m just delighted, lost for words really. The perspective you gain from having a year out of the sport is amazing.
“My attitude is just about enjoying it, I’ve never had that attitude before and it’s really paying dividends.
“I’m in the best team in the world I feel like from a support perspective and just the women around me just lift me up.”
As well as winning the general classification, Deignan also claimed the points jersey and the best placed British rider.