Q&A With Lizzie Deignan: Preparing For The World Road Race Cycling Championships

The World Road Race cycling Championships is the end of season event that we’ve all been waiting for. Staged in the Middle East, the event promises plenty of action, with time trials and road races taking place in the heat of the desert. We took the opportunity to speak to defending champion Lizzie Deignan (nee Armitstead) to discover how she’s prepared for the unique challenges of the Doha course and whether she’s planning to defend her title.

Lizzie Deignan Road Race Win

How have your preparations for the World Road Race Championships been going?

Preparations have been going very well. My main focus for Qatar is the Team Time Trial. We came very close to winning in Richmond and we would like to go one better in Doha. We have won the last three events together and everybody is motivated and in good shape.

What do you think will be your biggest challenges during this year’s race and how have you been preparing for them?

The main issue will be the heat. I would be lying if i said it wasn’t a huge concern of mine. I am not very good in high temperatures, I think Doha will be the most extreme in terms of temperature that I ever have or will race in. We have hydration and cooling strategies in place for race day, we have also been spending time in saunas post training to try and acclimatize to the heat.

After the Olympics earlier this summer, is there anything you’ve done differently in the run up to the World Championships?

The Olympics was my main focus of the season, it was a very challenging course in terms of climbing so I spent much of the year working on my climbing and trying to be as lean as possible. Since the games I have relaxed my diet a little as an extra kilo or so will not have any real impact on a flat Doha course.

Lizzie Deignan Hill Climb

You’ve had a variety of key races this year, including the Tour of Flanders, the Olympics and now the World Championships. How do you train to ensure you’re on top form at different points throughout the year?

You need to allow your body to rest at key periods. My run into the Olympics was incredibly focused and intense, it’s not a sustainable regime. I think you can choose a maximum of 3 peaks in a season, despite being reigning world champion I never planned on peaking to defend the title, the middle of October comes at the end of a long season, of course I will race to win but peaking there may be a little too much to ask both physically and mentally.

It’s been said that strength training and flexibility are important aspects of endurance cycling. How much do you incorporate these into your training?

I phase plan my training at the start of every season. I do a lot of my strength training on the bike and I continue this throughout the season, I only take it out within a few weeks of a big goal. I find the strength element of fitness is something I personally lose the quickest. Flexibility is hugely important for preventing injuries, I stretch most days alongside my core stability routine.

What are your go to off-bike exercises?

It probably surprises people to know that I use the internet for a lot of my core stability inspiration. There are so many great ways of finding different work outs now. I like to keep changing my routine to stay motivated.

Lizzie Deignan Training on Wattbike


Can you detail your favourite endurance-building Wattbike session?

Favourite is probably the wrong way of describing it! My most productive endurance building session would be my threshold session. I do a 30 minute warm up, followed by  9/12/15 minute efforts. I have at least ten minutes recovery in between the efforts. During the efforts I work at my threshold power with a 30 second spike every 2 minutes. The hardest part is working at the threshold straight away after the spike.

What do you usually do in the hours before you hit the start line to ensure you’re mentally focused and ready for the race?

I would lose so much energy if I got nervous before every race I do. I get nervous and excited before my target races. I try to think logically rather than emotionally and think about my strategy. I have the same simple routine breakfast, I pack my bags, I get on the bus to the race and I try to enjoy the atmosphere.

What tips and advice would you share with someone looking to take part in their first road race?

Remember that everyone has to start somewhere, I was a nervous first time racer too once. Give yourself plenty of time to find the start and familiarise yourself with the course etc. beforehand if you have the time. Try to control as many aspects of the day as you can and the ones that you can’t try not to worry about. Think about resting the days beforehand and eating and drinking well so that you have enough fuel. Set yourself realistic goals and be proud of yourself when you achieve them, don’t take it all too seriously, it’s only a bike race!