Deignan reflects on career

30 Nov 2018

Deignan reflects on career

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After announcing his retirement from professional cycling Philip Deignan has looked back on “a career of incredible experiences.”

The Irishman turned pro in 2005 and recently called time on an impressive 14-year career after racing for the last five seasons with Team Sky.
 
Now looking to the future and fatherhood, Deignan told TeamSky.com: “It’s quite a surreal moment when you announce your retirement. It’s obviously quite a big phase in your life and the start of the next period. It’s something I’ve been considering for the last few months and it wasn’t a decision I took lightly. I had a good think about it and had a good chat with my wife and family. It was definitely the right time to hang up the wheels.”
 
With daughter Orla born in September and wife Lizzie returning to racing full-time in the Women’s WorldTour next year, Deignan explained a number of factors went into the decision.
 
He added: “Becoming a father two months ago definitely added a different perspective to things. I had to factor that in when considering whether to continue racing next year, especially with Lizzie making a comeback now and continuing to race on for the next few years. We had put plans in place with either scenario, but it was going to be really hard and I think we’d have had to compromise our training a bit to try and work around it. It would have been a pretty unique situation for us to both try and continue racing.
Phil Deignan

Phil Deignan

I’m happy to give my full support to Lizzie now to work towards some great things over the next two years – things that I would never have been able to achieve.
“I didn’t want to continue half-heartedly so I’m happy to give my full support to Lizzie now to work towards some great things over the next two years – things that I would never have been able to achieve. To race at the highest level you need to sacrifice so much and you need to be selfish in a way. There’s plenty of fathers out there racing and it’s a fantastic thing if you can continue racing as a father. But I think in our unique position where we’re both racing it would have been really hard with the amount of days we’d both be away. The unpredictable nature of the race programmes is another thing I had to factor in. It would have been really hard but we would never have compromised Orla, so it would have been the bike and the training that would have suffered.”
 
After getting his big break at French team Ag2r Prevoyance, Deignan moved to Cervelo Test Team in 2009 before stints at RadioShack, UnitedHealthcare and eventually Team Sky.
 
On what the sport of cycling has given him, he confirmed: “It gives you a great work ethic. You need to commit yourself so much to the lifestyle and to the training. A huge huge amount of sacrifice goes in, and I don’t think I’ll miss that part too much. 14 years is a good stint.
 
“It’s given me so much. I’ve worked with and met some amazing people over the years and travelled to so many amazing places. I’ve had some incredible experiences along the way. Like I said in my retirement statement, I feel very grateful to have been part of all that for so long. I can definitely look back on a career with a lot of good memories and not too many regrets or things I would change. It was all a continuous learning experience along the way, even in the last couple of years. It’s just been an incredible journey really and I’m very grateful I had the opportunity to do the sport that I love and get paid for it at the same time. I don’t under-estimate how much of a privilege that was.”
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When it comes to highlights in the last 14 seasons, Deignan is quick to point to a memorable success in 2009. Victory on stage 18 of the Vuelta a Espana in the walled town of Avila catapulted him into ninth place overall, his best ever Grand Tour result and a position he retained in Madrid three days later.
 
“I didn’t win much as a pro you know – I only won three races – but a standout would obviously have been winning a stage in the Vuelta and finishing top-10 there in 2009. I’d had such a difficult season the year before and I’d come very close to actually stopping the bike. So to come through that, from a low to a massive high in the space of two years, made it even more special. Obviously then moving to Sky quite late on in my career was also a highlight. I’d moved to UnitedHealthcare, and in 2014 to get the opportunity to come back and ride for a team like Sky for five years was incredible. I got to start a Grand Tour in my home country and I never dreamt that I’d get the opportunity to do that. That’s another fond memory I have – those three days of racing in Ireland were very special as well.
 
“It was a great five years with the team. I met some amazing people. People I’ll remain friends with even though we’re no longer teammates. It was a privilege to have ridden alongside the riders I did.”
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