Elizabeth Deignan wins the first women’s Paris-Roubaix

On the cobblestones, torture. They were 129 to take the start of the first edition of Paris-Roubaix women, 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 offered a historic and spectacular first. This monument of cycling, 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 at the front in the first cobbled sector for my leaders, but seeing that I had created a gap, I decided to go there 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 in 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.

Read also: The female peloton makes its debut at the Paris-Roubaix

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 a weather that was not good 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.

No return possible for Marianne Vos

The adage says that the winner of the race is the one who takes the lead at the Carrefour de l’Arbre, the last cobblestone of which is 16 kilometers from the Roubaix velodrome. “It’s more of a legend than a truth, asked Pascal Sergent in The world. But, generally, the sacred runner is among the first to pass in front of the eponymous inn. ”

An axiom verified for this first female, since Lizzie Deignan solo attacked the 14th of the 17 cobbled sectors, one of the two classified ” five stars “ – that is, the most difficult. At 18 kilometers from the finish, several competitors including the Dutchwoman Ellen Van Dijk and the Luxembourger Christine Majerus fell.

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 minutes 30 seconds) and the Dutchwoman never managed to come back within 1 minute 15 seconds of the Briton.

Meanwhile, Lizzie Deignan had already finished with the big difficulties of the course. And the Briton entered the Roubaix velodrome on her own, laying the first stone in the history of women’s racing.