Lizzie Deignan relishing chance to ‘inspire people to race’ at RideLondon

Lizzie Deignan has stressed the importance of having events such as this weekend’s Ford RideLondon Classique staged in Britain.

RideLondon is now the only UCI Women’s WorldTour event taking place in Britain this year following the cancellation of the Women’s Tour due to funding issues.

It is the 10th edition of the event to be held and only its second time as a stage race, but Deignan believes it is vital to use such events to “inspire people to race”.

She told a press conference: “We all know the participation levels in cycling in the UK are at an all-time high, but it’s still really important to make sure grassroots people are still going into racing.

“I think there’s still a bit of a disconnect and the best way to show people and inspire people to race is to race in front of them, to be part of that circuit race atmosphere in London.

“There will be countless little girls on the side of the road watching that who will be excited and enthralled by cycling because there is a certain kind of festival atmosphere when a bike race comes to a city.

“I think it’s really important that we still have such a big event like RideLondon.”

RideLondon begins on Friday and is a three-stage race that runs through to Sunday.

Starting in Saffron Walden in Essex, the first stage covers 150km before the race resumes in Maldon on Saturday for 140km.

The finale is set to be staged in central London, with the finish taking place down the Mall, and Deignan is excited by the challenges the course presents.

She added: “The thing I love about racing in the UK is you can look at something on paper and think that you know what the outcome’s going to be – like if you think back to London 2012 everybody expected a sprinter to win it.

“Everybody’s eyes were on (Mark Cavendish) in the men’s race and that race ended in a breakaway, my race ended in a breakaway.

“It’s very dynamic, the weather comes into play a lot, the roads are tough.

“Even a flat road can feel like a climb in the UK so I think the course has been designed really well, it makes the most of the region that it’s in.

“It’s also exciting to finish with a circuit race, we don’t get to do that many circuit races anymore, so to be doing it in such an iconic city as well is exciting.”