Lizzie Deignan visits Bingley – Myrtle Park

Here’s my pal, Bill Marshall with his “Hot off the Press” report for the Wharfedale Observer….. Well, it was Hot off the Press on the OCCer Facebook page last week, I got it before the Wharfedale print copy had been ‘put to bed’…. YCCA secretary Fred Rothwell managed a few words on the mic beforehand.

FORMER world road race champion Lizzie Deignan has started preparations for her final season as a cycling professional, which she hopes will end in Olympic Games glory in Tokyo.

The 30-year-old from Otley, who won silver in the road race at the 2012 London Olympics, spent the final day of her holidays as an interested spectator at the fourth round of the Yorkshire Points Cyclo-Cross Series in Bingley last Sunday.​

The Trek-Segafredo team member, who has now returned to her home in Nice, was at Myrtle Park to watch her eight-year-old niece Amelia compete.​

Deignan, who has also won the Commonwealth Games road race title, said: “Being in France, which is where I live these days, helps a little bit with the training as we prepare for the new season so it’s back to the sunshine.”​

The former Prince Henry’s Grammar School pupil said: “There will be a full winter’s training as we prepare for our season opener, the Strade Bianchi in March in Italy, and then I hope to be selected for the Tokyo Olympics and win that gold medal.​

“I was really proud of the season that has just finished. I just had my daughter Orla the previous autumn so didn’t know what to expect but I came away with a win (in the Ovo Energy Women’s Tour) so that was more than I could have hoped for really.”​

Deignan added: “Being a mum has added motivation for me and mentally I am stronger than I have ever been and work so much harder.​

“Having children gives you more balance in your life. When you are back at home you quickly switch off from cycling and when you are away from home and your daughter you make it count but to be the best in the world you need to be single-minded and have understanding people around you.”​


The men’s race at Myrtle Park was won by Jenson Young (Garden Shed UK-Scott RT) – son of former Ilkley resident Mike – by almost five minutes from Shibden CC’s Joe Coukham.​

Third was Yeadon’s Jack Clarkson (Hope Factory Racing), who said of his race: “I got a poor start, which was down to me not being fit enough due to a change of jobs from a salesman to a joiner, which has given me a bit of a belly being on the construction site all the time!​

“I found myself chasing but found my rhythm by midway round lap one, took the corners a bit better and it started to flow.​

“There were some super-hard climbs but I was able to rest on the descents and it was a fantastic race and a fantastic day.”​

The 25-year-old former Greetland man added: “If I can match that podium and maybe get a couple more then I will be happy and come back even better next year.”​

Stefan Macina (Ilkley CC) was third in the men’s 40-49 years’ race and said: “I am happy with my position and tried my hardest.​

“It is a really excellent course and dried out quite a bit while we were going round.​

“There are a lot of places where you could get it wrong if you didn’t keep your focus but the guys ahead of me were away so I was just trying to consolidate third.”​

Clubmate Arthur Wilson was seventh but they were well ahead of colleagues Michael Strange (15th), Ryan Tiffany (30th), Liam Rees (38th) and Stuart Christenson (56th).​

Ilkley’s Ethan Whiteside (East Bradford Race Team) was runner-up the junior men’s race and said: “I am happy with second but it could have been so much better as I have just got back from holiday and am drained and also have a bit of a cold.”​

The 17-year-old Ilkley Grammar student, who finished ahead of third-placed Henry Hollyman (Otley CC), added: “It was a good course but difficult and saps your legs. With the illness it was definitely damage limitation.”​

Ethan’s sister Freya was second in the girls’ under-16 race, while brother and sister Ruaridh and Isla Aylward, from Otley Cycling Club, were both third in the under-12 races at Myrtle Park, with Theo Hart (Ilkley CC) 18th in the boys’ event.​

Mo Leeming-Sykes (Otley CC) was a creditable fourth in the girls’ under-16 category – a position that was matched by Ilkley CC’s Jake Thornton in the boys’ under-eights – while fellow Ilkley member Harry Leijssen was 30th in the under-12 boys’ event, a place behind clubmate Zac Wilson.​

John McManus (Ilkley CC) came 20th in the men’s race, while clubmate Tony Limbert was 13th in the men’s over-60 category, a place behind Tony Wild (Otley CC), who said: “It was extremely challenging, but I have enjoyed it, and I thank the Yorkshire Cyclo-Cross Association and Bronte Wheelers for organising it.​

“I have only done it before when it was dry and dusty but today was muddy and sticky – more than enough of a challenge for me – although I do like the undulations or recovery sections as I fondly call them.”​

Alun Powell (Otley CC) was 19th in the men’s over-50 category, while Alfie Robinson (Ilkley CC) was 30th in the under-14 boys’ event.​

Sophie Leijssen (Ilkley CC) was seventh in the girls’ under-10 category, with clubmates Rosa Wilson and Lucy Christenson 10th and 25th respectively.