Road World Championships: Road race is ‘perfect’ for Lizzie Deignan, says team-mate Lizzy Banks

Lizzie Deignan (left) beats Lizzy Banks (right) to win GP de Plouay 2020
Venue: Imola, Italy Dates: 24-27 September
Coverage: Live on BBC Two, BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website and app and through Connected TVs.

Britain have a “strong” team for the World Championships road race and the course is “perfect” for Lizzie Deignan, says team-mate Lizzy Banks.

The women’s road race takes place on Saturday in Imola, Italy.

Deignan, who has won GP de Plouay and La Course this year, is targeting her second road world title, while Banks is also in good form after winning a stage of the Giro Rosa earlier this month.

“It’s exciting, we’ve got such a strong team,” Banks told BBC Sport.

“Lizzie Deignan is on great form and this is a perfect course for her, she’ll really relish riding it.”

The women’s road race is 144km, ascending over 2,750m, and starts and finishes at the Imola motor racing circuit.

Banks, who finished second to Deignan at Plouay, won the longest stage of this year’s Giro Rosa, having picked up her first professional victory in last year’s edition of the only Grand Tour on the women’s calendar.

“To be able to come to the World Championships with those results in the bag gives me a lot of confidence,” she said.

“It’s confirmation that I belong with these world-class riders – sometimes you think you do when you know you’ve got the numbers but it’s a different thing actually being able to achieve that in a race.”

The road race is part of BBC Sport’s Women’s sport Saturday, with football and cricket as well as cycling on television via BBC Two or the red button and iPlayer.

Banks, 29, said “trying to enjoy” her training more this year had “paid off” in her racing after a “challenging” lockdown.

“We had a tough period where we lost a really close friend to coronavirus so that was really difficult,” she said.

“Not being able to see your friends during that time was devastating and that really fuelled my anxieties about going back to work.

“I used cycling as a release and sometimes it was difficult to get outside – the hardest thing was always leaving the front door but you always feel better once you get outside.”

Banks is also riding the time trial on Friday and believes that she can be “one of the best in the world” in the discipline one day.

However, she said she is mainly targeting the 2024 Olympics time trial, with the event still a “learning experience”, having only taken up cycling in 2015.

“I haven’t done a lot of work on time trialling and that’s something I’m really looking to improve on over the next few years,” she added.

“I haven’t done any aerodynamic testing work and it’s about having the fastest position you can on the bike – it’s something I’m going to look into this winter.”

The annual championships were originally due to be held in Switzerland, but had to be switched because of coronavirus restrictions.

Banks said: “Imola is going to be a more exciting course and it might be closer between the riders than the one in Switzerland would’ve been – I’m excited by it.”

Elite Women’s Road Race: Lizzy Banks, Alice Barnes, Hannah Barnes, Lizzie Deignan, Anna Henderson, Anna Shackley

Elite Women’s Time Trial: Lizzy Banks, Alice Barnes

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