LIZZIE Deignan did not expect to come to this week's Tour de Yorkshire ready to compete but has found herself ahead of schedule on her return to racing.

The former world champion gave birth to baby daughter Orla in September, but was back on her bike for last month's Ardennes Classics.

Surprising herself, Deignan finished seventh in last week's Liege-Bastogne-Liege after 23rd in the Amstel Gold Race and 21st in La Fleche Wallone.

Going home tired but happy with our attempt at the Ardennes classics! @TrekSegafredo raced aggressively and as a team through out, my favorite way to get stronger! Can't wait for #TDY

- Lizzie Deignan (@lizziedeignan) April 28, 2019

"When I did Amstel I was literally on the end of my saddle for the last 30 kilometres thinking, 'This is hard, what have I let myself in for?'" the Trek-Segafredo rider told Press Association Sport.

"But I'm definitely more prepared for this race having done the Ardennes week. I think it would have been crazy to come into this race expecting any kind of result had it been my first race back but I'm optimistic."

The Ardennes week saw Deignan spend a week away from home, the longest time she has been apart from Orla yet.

"That was difficult," Deignan said. "But Trek have been brilliant. They gave me full maternity leave effectively."

Like any young family, Deignan said she and husband Phil, the now retired former Team Sky rider who is commentating on this week's race, are learning on the fly how to manage their time.

"The general routine is we all get up, I go out training for four hours, I come back, Phil goes out and does whatever he needs to and we spend the evening together," she said.

"When I'm racing, Orla was in Ireland last week with Philip and nana and this week they're here. We're just flexible and rolling with it."

The 30-year-old won the Tour de Yorkshire in 2017, when it was still a one-day race. Though she admits she is not in the same form now as she was then, she feels the two stages that make up this year's race suit her.

Friday's opening stage takes the riders 132km from Barnsley to Bedale, with Saturday's second stage covering the same distance - over more lumpy terrain - between Bridlington and Scarborough. Both stages will cover exactly the route the men's race will tackle later in the day.

"I think it all suits me," Deignan said. "It suits an all-rounder and that's what I am."

Deignan will take the start alongside a host of big names, including reigning world time trial champion Annemiek Van Vleuten and three-time former world champion Marianne Vos.

"At home in Yorkshire, anything can happen and Yorkshire roads are really well suited to aggressive racing."