Tomorrow, six Lotto Soudal Ladies are at the start of the inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes. Due to Covid, the big wait lasted one year and a half but now the time has finally come. Between the start in Denain and finish on the mythical Roubaix velodrome, the women’s edition will see the riders tackle seventeen cobbled sections,
“Finally, we can ride Paris-Roubaix!”, begins an excited Jesse Vandenbulcke. “I am really happy to be at the start of the very first edition. Everyone who loves to race on cobbles and who adores the spring Classics, has been looking forward to this for quite some time. It’s so exciting, because it’s getting very real now.”
According to the weather forecasts, it will be a rainy Roubaix weekend. It doesn’t really bother Vandenbulcke that much, as she did a recon of the course several times.
“I really don’t mind a wet edition of Paris-Roubaix. Then it’s immediately for real”, says the Lotto Soudal Lady with a wink. “But the rain won’t make it easier, that’s for sure. Because of this, riders with cyclocross experience will come to the fore, they are not afraid of such conditions. I did a recon of the course three times, but it’s completely different to racing. As a final preparation, I will go through the course and crucial points several times with the help of Veloviewer. You can’t expect the race to unfold similar to the men’s edition; it can happen at any time. I think it will be full gas racing from the start. But Carrefour de l’Arbre will definitely be decisive for the final outcome.”
“Everyone gives me the advice to be at the front, but that will be the case for everyone. It’s not that simple”, says Vandenbulcke. “Positioning will indeed be important, but refueling on time will also be crucial.”
“You can’t make any predictions about a race like Paris-Roubaix, there are 1001 possible scenarios. There are so many factors which will play a role and also bad luck is part of the game. If I’m ready? I will be able to answer that question after the race, but I’m in excellent shape, which I showed during the Worlds last week. On paper, this is of course a race that suits me and I hope to finish inside the top 25. No matter how tough it will be, we learned from the men’s race that everyone wants to finish to enter the velodrome at the end.”
Image: Photo News.