When Lizzie Deignan says she wants to win a race, she tends to deliver. The British champion did exactly that in Plouay on Sunday, besting 2014 world champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot (CANYON//SRAM) in a two-up sprint to climb to the top step of the GP Plouay podium.
It’s Deignan’s first WorldTour victory of the season and her second GP Plouay win.
“I was the first person in our team meeting to say that I really wanted to win this race, to be the team leader today,” said Deignan. “I had the full backing from the team. Nobody else wanted to share leadership. My teammates are the best in the world, and without their support, I could not win. It’s a privilege to race with this group.”
The French one-day WorldTour circuit race covers 121.5 kilometres with four laps around a 26.9-kilometre loop followed by a single 13.9-kilometre lap. Each lap includes an ascent up Côte de Ty Marrec. The short but steep climb often serves as the inspiration for attacks and causes splits and selections.
The opening three laps were largely benign with a number of early attacks neutralised. The race came to life on the final large loop when Deignan and Anna van der Breggen marked a move made by Ferrand Prevot up Côte de Ty Marrec. The trio were joined by Ashleigh Moolman Paiso (Cervelo-Bigla) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-High5).
The group had a 20 second advantage over a reduced bunch of around 30 riders as they headed into the last lap. Team Sunweb led the chase, catching the five leaders with around 10 kilometres left to race. Karol-Ann Canuel was the next Boels-Dolmans rider to slip up the road. The Canadian was joined by Tiffany Cromwell (CANYON//SRAM).
The build-up to the last ascent of Ty Marrec naturally ate up Canuel and Cromwell’s advantage. Deignan, who had patiently bided her time, attacked on the steepest slopes of Ty Marrec. The acceleration drew out Ferrand-Prevot. The two former world champions hit the flamme rouge 20-seconds ahead of the 21-rider bunch that chased in their wake.
“I liked my chances at that point,” said Deignan.
She made it look easy: sprinting off Ferrand-Prevot’s wheel, slowing ever-so-slightly to sit up and zip her jersey, flinging her hands up in the air in celebration.
“I didn’t feel fantastic today, and I take confidence from pulling off the win when I wasn’t feeling my best,” Deignan said. “The team worked so well, but we almost always do. This is such a brilliant group to be a part of, and I’m honored that they trusted me to finish off their work.”