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Cobble Queen: Lizzie Deignan dominates inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes

British rider writes name in history books

British ace Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) made history on Saturday, soloing away just before the very first cobbled section of the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes to take a famous victory. She’s the first Brit to ever win Paris-Roubaix. Deignan adds the historic win to her triumphs in the 2016 Tour of Flanders and 2020 Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Canada’s Alison Jackson, resplendent in red bibs and the national champion’s jersey, came 24th.

The peloton faced 115.6 kilometres, starting with three circuits around Denain. After 31 km the women’s route joined the men’s course in Hornaing and followed it for the final 85 km into Roubaix. There were 17 cobbled sectors, for a total of 29.2 km of pavé, with two infamous five-star sectors: Mons-en-Pévèle at the 67 km mark and Carrefour de l’Arbre at the 98.5 km mark. The cobbles were treacherous with mud. Our conclusion came in the famed Roubaix velodrome.

Three riders loped away on the Denain circuits but were brought to heel before the first sector of pavé in Hornaing. Deignan pushed ahead of everyone heading into the first sector, while Annemiek van Vleuten was victim of a crash once the clattering began. By the third sector the English rider held a minute over the field, which the rough terrain had streamlined down to 32 women.

By the Orchies sector, Trek-Segafredo’s vet had a 1:30 gap. Christine Majerus and Emma Norsgaard were part of a quartet that formed her closest chase group. This pursuit bunch lost some momentum on Mons-en-Pévèle when Norsgaard crashed, but it also grew, as the legend Marianne Vos bridged over.
Like many, new world champion Elisa Balsamo found the cobbles unforgiving.

The chase kept growing, but it wasn’t pulling Deignan any closer. With 30 km to race her lead was a considerable 2:30. Numerous crashes hampered the pursuers. Vos separated herself from the other chasers in the Carrefour de l’Arbre and started to reel in the English rider before the gap stabilized at 1:15.

Deignan entered the hallowed Roubaix velodrome alone and had plenty of time to enjoy her remarkable triumph. It was her first one-day or stage win of the season.

Deignan’s teammate Elisa Longo Borghini rounded out the podium.

2021 Paris-Roubaix Femmes
1) Lizzie Deignan (Great Britain/Trek-Segafredo)
2) Marianne Vos (The Netherlands/Jumbo-Visma) +1:17
3) Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy/Trek-Segafredo) +1:47
24) Alison Jackson (Canada/Liv Racing) +6:20