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From the Classics Issue – Rouleur

From the Classics Issue – Rouleur

This article is an abridged version of an article published in Issue 118: the Classics Issue. To support our independent journalism and read more about the Classics subscribe to Rouleur and you’ll receive your edition of 118, featuring exclusive interviews with Biniam Girmay, Liane Lippert and Imanol Erviti.

Lizzie Deignan

Winner, 2016 Tour of Flanders

Lizzie Deignan, (then Lizzie Armitstead), was the reigning world champion in 2016. She’d already come second in the Tour of Flanders in 2014, having to police the chase group while team-mate Ellen van Dijk escaped to victory, but went one better in 2016. As the men’s race celebrated its 100th edition, both were won by world champions, as Peter Sagan took victory later in the day.

I’d been trying to win Flanders for a few years, but it never quite came together. I was only interested in the win. I’d been on the podium [in 2014] – I was winning the World Cup and I was in great form, but then my team-mate Ellen van Dijk attacked and she won the race. That was great, but it was one of those missed opportunities. Other times I peaked too soon, because it’s a tricky weekend to get right. You want to hit the ground running at the Classics, but if you’re pinging in Nieuwsblad, it’s hard to maintain it to Flanders.

At the training camp in January, we would all say our personal goals, so nobody has a hidden agenda. And I said outright, I want this one. I need to tick the box.

On the day, I remember feeling okay, but not extraordinary. I never felt good in the race, which is probably why I won, because when you’re feeling good in a race like Flanders, you’re tempted to attack when you don’t really need to. And if you’re not feeling great, you make sure your position into the climbs is better; you don’t take anything for granted. But I was very focused and was thinking, it doesn’t matter what the sensations are, I know I’m strong enough to win it.

I wanted to thin the group on the Oude Kwaremont, which I was successful in doing, and then over the top, there’s always that moment where either the group that you’re in works together and establishes the move, or messes around. And I got co-operation from Emma Johansson.

Read more: What’s in edition 118 of Rouleur?

I wanted to win solo. I didn’t want to take anybody to the line. I thought the Paterberg would be where I would go, but I couldn’t drop Emma. She was a very difficult rider to drop, though maybe on my best day…

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