PARIS ROUBAIX – THE INAUGURAL WOMEN’S RACE
It’s been a long time coming, but the world’s top female riders will be attacking Paris Roubaix for the first time this weekend. Look for 22 teams from ten different countries vying for first-time Paris Roubaix Femmes laurels over the rough cobble sectors.
Ø 132 female pioneers are expected at the start of the first edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes on Saturday in Denain (13:35) for a 116.4-kilometre race to the Roubaix velodrome, which they will reach if they can withstand the 29.2 kilometers of cobbles that await them.
Ø One week after the World Championships, the medalists from Leuven will battle on the formidable sectors of Mons-en-Pévèle and Carrefour de l’Arbre. But Italy’s Elisa Balsamo, The Netherlands’ Marianne Vos and Poland’s Kasia Niewiadoma will have several rivals on these unexplored territories.
It’s all about making history. The first edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes automatically implies the beginning of a winner’s list on which each of the riders’ entered dreams of writing her name. However, this part of the prestige is only possible for select members of the peloton: the champions who know best how to prepare for the big races. The recent World Championships in Flanders provided insight on an elite group of riders that is capable of starring on the neighboring roads. One week later, the three medalists in Leuven will have their chance to raise a cobblestone on the Roubaix velodrome, starting with world champion Elisa Balsamo, who will debut her beautiful rainbow jersey in the mud or the dust, depending on the weather. To make it shine at the end of the 116.4 km course, she will have to dominate again Marianne Vos, who will use all her talent as seven times cyclo-cross world champion to fly over the cobblestones and to get an umpteenth triumph. Kasia Niewiadomia, who accompanied them on the world podium and has also been in the top three of the Strade Bianche four times, will also be one of the primary contenders for the title.
The list of favorites doesn’t end with last weekend’s heroines. There are several in the Trek-Segafredo squad, which includes time trial world champion Ellen van Dijk, who will wear her star-studded European champion jersey for the first time; Liz Deignan, winner of the 2020 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, 2016 Tour of Flanders and 2016 Strade Bianche and Elisa Longo Borghini, who has won and placed in the biggest races on the calendar. As the Paris-Roubaix course is all-new for the ladies, it will be useful to observe whether the qualities of the rollers will pay off as much as for the men. In this case, Lisa Brennauer (5th) in the world championship time trial), Marlen Reusser (2nd) or the young Dane Emma Norsgaard, should also be watched closely.
22 WOMEN’S TEAMS HEADED TO THE COBBLES
Team BikeExchange: Spratt, Roy (Aus)
Lotto-Soudal Ladies: Vandenbulcke (Bel)
Doltcini-Van Eyck-Proximus Continental Team: K.Schweinberger (Aut)
FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope: Uttrup-Ludwig (Den)
Arkéa Pro Cycling Team: Verhulst (Fra)
Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime Women Cycling: Rüegg (Swi)
Canyon//Sram Racing: Niewiadoma (Pol), Klein (Ger)
Team DSM: Wiebes (Ned)
Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling: Brennauer, Teutenberg (Ger)
Drops-Le Col s/b Tempur: Van’t Geloof (Ned)
Alé BTC Ljubljana: Reusser (Swi), Guderzo (Ita), Bujak (Slo)
Bepink: Drummond (Nzl)
Valcar-Travel & Service: Balsamo, Consonni (Ita)
Liv Racing: Kopecky (Bel), Jackson (Can)
SD Worx: Van den Broeck-Blaak, Pieters (Ned)
Jumbo-Visma Women Cycling Team: Vos, Van den Bos (Ned)
NXTG Racing: Kool (Ned)
Parkhotel Valkenburg: Van der Hulst (Ned)
Team Coop-Hitec Products: Kröger (Ger)
Movistar Team Women: Van Vleuten (Ned), Norsgaard (Den)
Trek-Segafredo: Deignan (Gbr), Cordon-Ragot (Fra), Longo Borghini (Ita), Van Dijk (Ned)
Team Tibco-SVB: Stephens (Usa), Kessler (Ned)