By now, cyclist Lizzie Deignan had fully expected to be in the first weeks of retirement and pondering the prospect of extending the family beyond husband Philip and daughter Orla.
This year’s Olympics were supposed to be her career swansong, but instead it and Deignan’s career have been extended by a year.
As a result, she never had any intention of going for a second world title in Imola on Saturday and, despite being one of the form riders in the peloton, insists that means she will ride without any undue pressure.
“It’s probably a good thing that I’m not particularly worried or anxious about the course or result,” she said.
“I don’t feel pressure as I’d not put any pressure on the World Championships. This year was only about Tokyo, this is sat here between the Giro d’Italia and Fleche Wallonne. I’m just going with the flow, which is very unusual to go in like that.”
As for her chances of a second rainbow jersey, she said: “I’ve no idea. The original Worlds in Switzerland were not on my radar — they were too mountainous for me — but, from what I’ve heard, this suits a more classics-type rider, so you never know.”
Deignan makes no secret of the fact she would have far rather meticulously prepared for the event, impossible when Imola was only announced as the venue for the rearranged championships at the start of the month.
But team-mate Lizzy Banks believes the course is tailor-made for victory for Britain’s team leader, and the form is clearly good, judging by recent wins at La Course (the women’s Tour de France) and the Bretagne Classic.
And, in contrast to her first world title in Richmond in 2015, Deignan has a stronger British team around her.
“With Imola, we have riders who can stay in the race longer than in previous years,” she said. “We’re not quite like the Dutch team, where we could all win the world title, and devise plans between us all. We’re still underdogs and I don’t think we’re quite there yet. We still want to fly under the radar and I really feel other teams will be watched more than we are.”
Whatever the result, it is far from the end of a season that Deignan at one time feared might not happen at all: she takes part in her final race, Paris-Roubaix, at the end of October before the focus shifts fully to Tokyo for a second time.
The packed calendar has made for an unsettling time for her two-year-old. “The goodbyes are difficult,” she said. “And going away is getting harder for both her and Phil.
“I was two days at home after the Giro, then the Worlds, home for a day and then it’s Belgium for a week. Leaving Orla behind is normally manageable, now it’s hard work. But she’s definitely starting to understand where I’m going. She just tells me to ‘go faster, mummy’.”
That remains the clear goal between now and Tokyo. A year further on from her daughter’s birth, does it give Deignan a further boost?
“The first year was difficult, but I feel like I’m back to myself now,” she said. “I don’t think the extra year will make any difference. But I’m pulling on a
GB jersey in Imola first and that always makes you proud and want to do a good job.”