EF Education-Tibco-SVB rider Lizzy Banks has had a tough couple of years, losing her 2021 racing season to a concussion and 2022 to post-covid pericarditis. She’s giving her body the care it needs and building up slowly again.
I progressed throughout the domestic ranks very successfully, very quickly. Of course, like anybody, I had a couple of crashes. But once I got into the professional peloton, I progressed even faster. I won a WorldTour race in my first year in Europe, then I won another WorldTour race the following year. And really, everything sort of came crashing down when my team folded at the end of 2020 in the pandemic year.
2021 seemed to be going smoothly, I had a new team, Ceratizit-WNT, but a freak accident at Strade Bianche threw the whole year out of kilter. I spent the whole year recovering from that.
I was ready to go again in late September, beginning of October 2021. I worked so bloody hard, and I was so good: I was recovering better than I’ve ever recovered before. In January, I set the best power numbers I’d ever done. I was convinced that the rest that my body had was going to fare me well in 2022. I was starting with a new team. I would have a complete new set of opportunities, more support than I’d ever had before, more money in the bank than I’ve had before. And I could actually support myself with physio and anything else that I needed. Then the day before my first race, I got covid and I had no idea what would come to pass with getting pericarditis from covid and spending eight months battling it. I have had some rather shit luck the last few years.
At the end of September 2022, I felt like I was ready to start again. I was cautiously stepping back into it. I did my first one-hour ride. The day after that, some family were visiting me and one of my family members tested positive for covid. Four days later, I got covid for the second time. And then two weeks after that, I visited the cardiologist to have a checkup. And five days later, I picked up bronchitis from the cardiologist.
I did everything right, I went off the bike, when I had covid, I didn’t train, I came back very slowly, I did everything right. But it’s something that you can’t control; there are millions of people living with long covid, unable to get a diagnosis, unable to get treatment.
Really, I consider myself bloody lucky that I have the resources to be able to do that, and that I’ve recovered from it. If I were doing a normal job, I would have been able to do that for a number of months. But I don’t have a normal job.
There’s nothing in my history that could have predicted this. It’s a series of really unfortunate events. And I know what it looks like from the outside; I know what people say. People see riders who haven’t raced for two years or have one thing after another and they just write off that rider.
But I’m not ready to be written off yet.