A short history of Paris Roubaix Femmes

Mylene de Zoete's broken bike

Paris Roubaix Femmes is a professional one-day women’s road cycling race that takes place in France. The race is considered one of the toughest and most prestigious events on the women’s cycling calendar, due to its gruelling route, which includes many cobblestone sections. The first edition of the race was held in 2021, making it a relatively new addition to the world of professional cycling.

The origins of Paris Roubaix Femmes can be traced back to the long-standing men’s race, Paris-Roubaix. The men’s race has been held annually since 1896 and is known for its challenging terrain, including cobbled roads, that have earned it the nickname “The Hell of the North.” The women’s version of the race was first proposed in 2020 by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the governing body for professional cycling, in response to the growing demand for women’s races that are on par with men’s races in terms of prestige and difficulty.

Opening edition of Paris Roubaix Femmes

The first edition of Paris Roubaix Femmes was originally scheduled to take place in 2020, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The race finally took place on April 11, 2021, starting in the town of Denain and finishing in Roubaix. The race covered a distance of 116.4 kilometres, including 29.2 kilometres of cobbled sections.

The inaugural edition of Paris Roubaix Femmes was won by British rider Lizzie Deignan, who crossed the finish line solo with famously bloody hands. The 2021 edition of Paris Roubaix Femmes was a major success, with the race receiving widespread praise from both fans and riders. The challenging course and the prestigious status of the race have made it a must-attend event for professional female cyclists, and the race is expected to continue to grow in popularity in the coming years.

Elisa Longo Borghini wins 2022 Paris Roubaix Femmes
Elisa Longo Borghini wins 2022 Paris Roubaix Femmes

Last year’s race saw Elisa Longo Borghini attack solo albeit later than her teammate the previous year. The Italian reached the velodrome alone with a comfortable lead and plenty of time to celebrate.

This year’s edition was a change-up though. A large group went clear early on as a break of the day and some of them hung on until the finish line. With Alison Jackson winning the sprint. Similar to the way that Mat Haymen won the men’s race in 2013, sometimes those riders in the early break give themselves a chance to win. It was helped by a slide out from Longo Borghini on the mud that hampered the chase and probably would’ve seen the front group closed down as the gap was only 12 seconds.

The success of Paris Roubaix Femmes is part of a wider trend in professional cycling, with women’s races becoming increasingly popular and attracting greater investment and media coverage. In recent years, there has been a push to promote gender equality in the sport, with more and more women’s races being added to the calendar and more resources being allocated to support female riders.

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