Lizzie Deignan thought her cycling career would end when she became a mother, but at 29 she has just signed a contract to lead the brand-new Trek women’s team when she returns to racing next spring. This will be a major responsibility, because as Trek CEO John Burke said at the team’s announcement: “Financially, it will be very well supported…a women’s team which is getting the same type of support as the men’s team.” In a pro career that started in 2008, Deignan (as Lizzie Armitstead) won most of the sport’s top events, including the 2015 world road title in Richmond, Virginia, the Tour of Flanders and Strade Bianche. She took silver at the 2012 Olympics in London…and is making gold at the 2020 Tokyo Games her ultimate goal. Married to Team Sky’s Irishman Philip Deignan, Lizzie graciously agreed to fill out our Proust questionnaire just a few weeks before giving birth to the couple’s first child.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Sharing a priceless experience with all the people I love.
What is your greatest fear? Having no purpose in life.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Being a control freak.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Narcissism.
Which living person do you most admire? Lyse Doucet [the Canadian journalist who is the BBC’s chief international correspondent].
What is your greatest extravagance? Travel.
What is your current state of mind? Very pregnant.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Politeness; it can slow things down!
On what occasion do you lie? Answering irrelevant questions in interviews.
What do you most dislike about your appearance? I frown too much.
Which living person do you most despise? Donald Trump.
What is the quality you most like in a man? Integrity.
What is the quality you most like in a woman? Integrity.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Inequality—I wish it wasn’t an issue and therefore that I didn’t have to say it so much.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? My husband, Philip.
When and where were you happiest? The day I fell in love with my husband.
Which talent would you most like to have? To be able to sing.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Nothing; if I cared enough I could change it.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My career.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? A snow leopard.
Where would you most like to live? I wish I knew!
What is your most treasured possession? I don’t own anything I couldn’t live without, but I have a box of treasured letters from various people.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Being lonely.
What is your favorite occupation? Spending time with friends and family.
What is your most marked characteristic? Determination.
What do you most value in your friends? Their opinions, whether or not I agree is irrelevant; I like being challenged and engaging conversation.
Who are your favorite writers? Musicians who inspire me through training: Beyoncé, Elvis.
Who is your hero of fiction? Katniss Everdeen [from “The Hunger Games”].
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Princess Diana.
Who are your heroes in real life? The older generations of my family.
What are your favorite names? Elvis, Venus.
What is it that you most dislike? Social-media culture.
What is your greatest regret? Allowing myself to be treated unfairly.
How would you like to die? Quickly.
What is your motto? Worry about what you can control, forget the rest.