The thrill of competing on home roads isn't lost on Lizzie Deignan as she prepares for a trip down memory lane at next week's Road World Championships.
Deignan, who hails from Otley, will lead Great Britain’s elite women’s team in the road race on September 28, hoping to reclaim the world title she won in the United States in 2015.
Deignan is no stranger to success at major competitions, having won road race silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games and gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Success brings with it pressure for the 30-year-old – knowing the expectation to deliver another good performance in her home county.
But winning isn’t the be-all and end-all for the former world champion this time around, Deignan admitting that no matter the result, competing on her native roads will be an experience she will remember fondly forever.
“The Road World Championships race route passes places that have really had a huge influence on my life,” said Deignan.
“The route passes the school I went to, the church where I got married, my parents’ garden with the finish-line in the town where my daughter Orla was born and where I’ll be living, once I retire from competition.
“I feel extremely lucky to be experiencing all of this regardless of how the race goes as it will give me very special moments I will always remember.”
The home pressure isn’t the only challenge Deignan will be faced with next weekend, having only returned to cycling in April after giving birth to Orla a little over a year ago.
Training for elite competition is gruelling enough already, let alone on the comeback from pregnancy, but Deignan is the latest female cyclist to defy the odds, winning the Women’s Tour in June just two months after returning to the sport.
When the route organisers announced the World Championships women’s course would be passing right by her parents’ house in Otley, Deignan was determined to make sure she would be able to compete in time.
Whether she reclaims her world title next Saturday or not, the home hero knows her comeback has already been a success and hopes her story will continue to be an inspiration for many.
“It is still quite unusual for a woman to come back at such a high level after a pregnancy,” added Deignan.
“I have kept myself moving over all these months even though I don’t think you could call it real training as such.
“But each and every day, I tried to listen to what my body was telling me and trained on the basis of what I was feeling in the moment.
“I feel a sense of responsibility now to prove to everyone that it is possible to reconcile the life of a sports person with motherhood.”
Deignan will be competing alongside Lizzy Banks, Alice Barnes, Hannah Barnes, Nikki Juniper and Anna Henderson in the women’s elite race.
The star-studded line-up will continue into the men’s elite race with 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas and Adam Yates taking part, while up-and-coming stars Elynor Backstedt and Fred Wright will compete in the age group events in Yorkshire.