On the cobblestones, torture. They were 129 to take the start of the first edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes, in Denain. Over a distance of 116.4 kilometers, including 29.2 kilometers of cobblestone sectors, the slippery roads of the “hell of the North” witnessed a historic and spectacular first. This cycling monument, one of the most difficult races to win, was won by Briton Elizabeth Deignan (Trek-Segafredo), who started alone 82 kilometers from the finish, from the first cobbled section.
” I am very proud, reacted the winner after crossing the line. What happened today will go down in the history of women’s cycling, it’s huge. Going alone was not the plan at all, especially so early in the race. I just wanted to be well positioned up front in the first cobbled section for my leaders, but seeing that I had created a gap, I decided to go ahead and not turn around. “
At 32, Lizzie Deignan adds this cycling classic to an already extensive track record. The Briton, who gave birth to a baby girl in 2018, notably won Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2020, the Strade Bianche and the Tour of Flanders in 2016. She was above all crowned world champion in 2015 and won the silver medal at the London Olympics in 2012.
The podium at Roubaix is completed by the Dutchman Marianne Vos, one of the favorites at the start, and the Italian Elisa Longo Borghini. First French in the standings, Audrey Corgon-Radot finished in eighth place. “We were up to this first female Paris-Roubaix. It is an arena of gladiators, and, when we see the faces of all the girls today, we realize the effort made “, reacted the French teammate of Deignan.
Proficiency on wet and mud-covered cobblestones
“In wet weather, the speed will be reduced, the road more slippery: you have to be skilful, agile”, had warned François Doulcier, president of the association of Friends of Paris-Roubaix, in the columns of the World.
This was the case this Saturday, with bad weather for this race, which traditionally takes place in April, but which was first postponed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic – before being canceled .
This year, the health situation led to a program in the fall: the rain was therefore an expected but feared guest. On wet cobblestones covered with mud, there were many falls, especially in the Mons-en-Pévèle sector.
But Lizzie Deignan seemed at ease on this terrible course. The Trek-Segafredo rider was impressive in control throughout the race, spectacularly avoiding a fall that could have been fatal.
Huge Lizzie Deignan! In the lead from the first cobblestone sector, the Briton is playing the balancing act on this… https://t.co/QJgogtWWvU
No return possible for Marianne Vos
The saying goes that the winner of the race is the one who takes the lead at the Carrefour de Arbre, the last pavement of which is 16 kilometers from the Roubaix velodrome. “It’s more of a legend than a truth, asked Pascal Sergent, president of the Hauts-de-France Cycling committee, in The world. But, generally, the sacred runner is among the first to pass in front of the eponymous inn. “
An axiom that this first female does not deny, since Lizzie Deignan attacked solo on 14e of the 17 cobbled sectors, one of the two classified “five stars”, therefore among the most difficult. At 18 kilometers from the finish, several competitors including the Dutchwoman Ellen Van Dijk and the Luxembourger Christine Majerus fell.
💥😮 MASSIVE FALL !! It was inevitable! Several runners find themselves on the ground in the blocking group, Elizab… https://t.co/2i5ZyGdeH1
Marianne Vos, the biggest winners in the current women’s peloton and vice-world champion last weekend, tried to make a comeback, launching herself alone in pursuit of Lizzie Deignan, dropping Elisa Longo Borghini. But the gap was already too large (2 min 30 s)… The Dutchwoman never managed to come back within 1 min 15 s of the Briton.
🤩 History Lizzie Deignan! At the end of a formidable solo act of nearly 80 kilometers, the Briton r… https://t.co/N11c1NH7X9
Meanwhile, Lizzie Deignan had already finished with the big difficulties of the course. The Briton entered the Roubaix velodrome on her own, laying the first stone in the history of women’s racing.