Lizzie Deignan says she aims to win the biggest races on her return after her second child, but is “surprised” the Women’s Tour was cancelled.
Deignan will contest Wednesday’s La Fleche Wallonne race in Belgium after a year out of the Women’s World Tour.
“I have the same objectives, but I’m surprised they can’t sustain more races in the UK,” she said.
The Women’s Tour, cancelled in March, was one of few races to give equal prize money to the men’s event.
Deignan, 34, added: “My role is to be the best athlete, but I’m disappointed and can also say I don’t quite understand how it has happened. From my perspective, when I’m out in the UK training on British roads, participation levels are higher than I’ve ever seen before.
“At grassroots level, more and more clubs are busy. It seems like there’s this massive influx of participation that hasn’t translated into domestic racing competition – and whether that’s because of red tape, whether that’s because of sponsorship, post-pandemic people are struggling, or a financial crisis going on… I don’t know.”
The Women’s Tour awarded equal prize money to the men’s version of the event – the Tour of Britain – which is still set to take place in September.
Deignan is returning earlier than expected to competition following injuries to some of her team-mates, and only expects to act as a support to increase the fitness “intensity” she says she is currently lacking.
“For me the objectives are the World Championships and the Olympics, but it’ll be really exciting to take part in Tour de France [Femmes],” she added.
And Deignan, who will also contest this Sunday’s ‘monument’ Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day race in Belgium has other objectives.
“Also new opportunities that I hope are still going to come,” she added. “I’m the rider with most monument [wins] at the moment, so I’d like to try to go for new monuments.
“I would like to try to aim for five monument wins in my career – that would be special.”
Deignan, from Otley in West Yorkshire, says it has been helpful to see other women achieve success after having children, including Olympic rower Helen Glover.
“I know one who’s gone better [than winning after two kids] – Helen Glover – she’s got three kids under three or something ridiculous. She’s proven to be phenomenal force to be reckoned with and a huge inspiration for me.
“There’s something about managing the chaos of more than one child… it’s just helpful when you see it’s possible, because there are moments in the middle of the night when you think you’ve bitten off more than you can chew and it’s great when there’s examples you can follow.”