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“It’s a bit surreal”: Lizzie Deignan recognised for services to cycling in New Year Honours

“I would like to think I’ve given other women the confidence to choose motherhood,” says the former world champion, Paris-Roubaix winner, and now MBE

During what has been a historic year for women’s cycling, 2015 world road race champion Lizzie Deignan has enjoyed a few personal, off-the-bike landmarks of her own. In September, the Trek-Segafredo rider and her husband (and retired Irish pro) Philip welcomed their second child Shea, and this weekend the 34-year-old has been recognised for her services to cycling in the 2023 New Year Honours list by being made an MBE, while BMX legend Ken Floyde was awarded a British Empire Medal.

Deignan has put together a stellar palmarès during her 14-year-long professional career, which incudes that stunning world championships victory in Richmond, Virginia in 2015 and wins at Strade Bianche, the Tour of Flanders, the Trofeo Alfredo Binda (twice), the GP de Plouay (three times), the Women’s Tour (twice) and the Tour de Yorkshire, as well as taking an impressive silver medal behind Marianne Vos in the road race at the 2012 London Olympics.

> Exclusive interview: Lizzie Deignan on the Tour de France Femmes, returning to the top after childbirth, her memorable wins, and much more 

But it is the Yorkshire rider’s continued success following the birth of her daughter, Orla, in 2018 that has arguably proved the biggest source of inspiration for other women in cycling, and sport in general.

Since her return to the peloton in 2019, Deignan has won La Course by Le Tour de France, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and – most memorably – the inaugural edition of the Paris-Roubaix Femmes in October 2021, in which she made history via a staggering 82km solo escape in grisly, wet conditions.

Lizzie Deignan and family at 2019 Road Worlds in Harrogate  (Copyright Simon Wilkinson,

Simon Wilkinson/

In February, Deignan announced that she would miss the 2022 racing season as she awaited the arrival of son Shea, and that she had also – in another sign of the progressive influence she’s had on the sport – extended her contract with Trek-Segafredo through 2023 and 2024.

Like the damehood awarded last year to another racing mother, Laura Kenny, Deignan’s MBE arguably represents more than just her results on the road.

> Arise, Dame Laura and Sir Jason! Cycling’s golden couple recognised in New Year Honours 

“It’s a bit surreal,” Deignan told the Yorkshire Post after receiving the honour. “It makes you feel proud. To be recognised for services to cycling, it’s more than just a result. It will have a bit more longevity. When I’m 50 or 60 I’ll still have my MBE but my results will be long gone.”

Asked if the honour might be recognition for her status as a role model for other women in sport, Deignan replied: “I hope so. It was never about the intention to inspire, it was about the intention to start a family for us.

“It’s kind of borne out of things that have driven me personally – to my own results, but also to start a family. Those are very personal.

“The inspiration or impactfulness has come as a by-product or as an accident. I suppose I’m never shy about giving my opinion and that has perhaps contributed to it being a bit more impactful I hope.”

Lizzie Deignan during Paris-Roubaix Femmes 2020 Copyright -A.S.O. Fabien Boukla

A.S.O./Fabien Boukla

Remarking on the shift in attitude, even in recent years, towards pregnancy in elite sport, Deignan continued: “I would like to think I’ve given other women the confidence to choose motherhood but also for sponsors and teams to acknowledge that it is possible and it can be supported successfully.

“The reaction to both pregnancies couldn’t have been more different and it suggests to me there has been a huge shift in people’s mindsets.

“When I announced I was pregnant with Orla, people were more vocal about the fact I was walking away from my career at the top of the sport, and why did I expect to get support or maternity rights?

“But it was just congratulations when I announced my pregnancy with Shea. There was no question Trek would support me. I think they’ve led the way in making it impossible for other teams to treat me the way I was treated the first time. It’s dramatically different.”

Earlier this month, Deignan told her Instagram followers that her “conservative plan” was to return to racing in May, but the 34-year-old has hinted that, with little pressure from either herself or her Trek-Segafredo team for immediate results, she may even be back in the peloton sooner than expected.

“Who knows?” she said. “I only want to start to race if I can contribute to the result and help the team. The last time I wanted to come back ready to win but I feel the pressure for that is off this time.

“I don’t have anything to prove in that way so I might start racing earlier.”

Ken Floyde (British Cycling)

Ken Floyde (via British Cycling)

Picking up a British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours was Ken Floyde, the Chair of Brixton BMX club who also founded it way back in 1981.

A hugely influential figure in the development of BMX in South London and beyond for decades, Floyde was directly involved in the building of the first Brockwell Park BMX track in 1990, and was a mentor in developing talents such as the legendary BMX showman Charlie Reynolds.

Ryan joined in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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squired | 1 year ago

I'll always remember seeing her at Manchester Velodrome when she was something like 17 years old. Stood out head and shoulders against the girls she was racing. You could instantly tell that she had bags of talent.

OldRidgeback | 1 year ago


It's nice she's won an award, but this shouldn't overshadow another important award for cycling for someone less well known, but who, arguably, has done rather more for the wider community.

Deignan and Floyde recognised in 2023 New Year Honours list (


Bear in mind that Ken Floyde set up Brixton BMX Club in the dark days of 1981, just after the Brixton Riots. His work established BMX as a sport in South London and champion rider Charlie Reynolds was one of his first proteges. It's worth noting that the UK's silver medallist from the Tokyo Olympics, Kye Whyte, is one of many hundreds of BMX ridesr from South London who benefited from Floyde's championing of the sport. More than that, Floyde's work in BMX has helped give many youths from difficult backgrounds a positive direction to their lives. 

Freddy56 | 1 year ago
1 like

delighted for her and the sport

Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
1 like

Glad she's recognized, for sure, but are her achievements any lesser than Chris or Jason or Laura or Brad, all of whom got awards three rungs higher? There seems to be a massive bias in the honours system towards a) track success and b) Olympic games success.

Awavey replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago

well its rooted in the 2012 Olympics, the government had promised all the athletes who won gold medals would automatically get an award or the next rung higher if theyd been lucky enough to already have something, which is how Hoy & Wiggins were then knighted and Jason & Laura both got OBEs.

But the reaction among the public/honours committee was that this was beginning to cheapen the whole honours system if you were just handing them out like confetti, as they had done when the whole England cricket team got awards just for winning the Ashes in 2005.

So they changed the rules and made it more about a sustained career long success rather than well you won something, so all have another gong, hence why only a selection of the Lionesses team got an award.

But which then means all those that missed out in 2012, have had to wait , and will have to wait, much longer to get recognised for their career successes, and thus ironically Lizzie gets the award in a year where she missed out the whole season racing.

Rendel Harris replied to Awavey | 1 year ago

It's almost as though the whole thing is a bit arbitrary, daft and generally meaningless! I'd be very happy to move to a system where there are one set of awards for public service, one set for charitable service and one set for valour (George Cross etc) and that's it. Sportspeople, film stars, rock musicians etc, they've got more money and adulation than most could expect in a thousand lifetimes, do we really need to pile more on top? 

wtjs | 1 year ago
1 like

Great news! What a rider!! Another of my heroes honoured (although none can exceed, for me, The Greatest: Beryl)

Awavey | 1 year ago

about time too, considering how frequently gongs are awarded to the track team, Lizzie is one of those riders you just assumed had already been given such a recognition award, purely based on her results on the road, so maybe it is arguably more than about that.

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