Canadian Alison Jackson took the biggest result of her career so far with a victory on the velodrome in Roubaix. She attacked early in the race and the strongest of that group managed to stay away until the finish line this year. The finish was chaotic with a crash for SD Worx’s Femke Markus on the velodrome with only 500 metres or so to go, riders not used to the track were exposed as Jackson sprinted home ahead of Katia Ragusa and Marthe Truyen. The latter looked to have the fastest sprint but found herself boxed in at the bottom of the track.
The third edition of Paris Roubaix Femmes had seen Lotte Kopecky considered the overwhelming favourite at the start of the day and Trek Segafredo were keen to keep their 100% record in the race going. Despite winning at the Tour of Flanders last weekend, for Kopecky, this race was the major goal of the spring classics. The race started with 3 quick laps around Denain with riders trying to create gaps straight away but it took 15 kilometres for the first break to go clear. It was full of strong riders and eleven strong. It included Marta Lach, Lisa van Helvoirt, Josie Talbot, Susanne Andersen, Marie-Morgan Le Deunff, Alison Jackson, Julia Borgstrom, Amber Pate, Jesse Vandenbulcke, Marion Borras and Marthe Truyen.
They were joined 10km later by a small group that bridged across that included most of the teams not represented in the initial move. The likes of Lisa Klein, Alice Towers, Eugénie Duval, Daniek Hengeveld, Katia Ragusa, Laura Tomasi and Femke Markus. The added firepower helped take the break’s gap up to 6 minutes which would prove crucial later on. The first cobbles saw Daniek Hengeveld ride away from her breakaway companions and she remained clear for a good while. Back in the bunch Marianne Vos punctured and had to close up 1 minute’s deficit just to get back on terms with the main bunch. This was achieved after the 5-star difficulty Mons-en-Pévèle sector where we saw a move go from Lotte Kopecky.
That move created an elite group of chasers now between the peloton and the lead group. The likes of former winner Longo Borghini, Lucinda Brand, Elise Chabbey, Peiffer Georgi, Franziska Koch, Sanne Cant, Floortje Mackaij, Chiara Consonni and Romy Kasper were all involved. The gap they needed to close was 3 minutes with around 40km of the race still to go. Decent odds for the bunch of pre-race favourites. The chase was derailed only a few kilometres later when Elisa Longo Borghini went down on some mud and brought down a number of that group in the process. Sanne Cant suffered the most, sustaining a deep cut between the eyes that has seen the Belgian require plastic surgery.
The various bits and pieces that the chase group had broken into as a result of the crash began to join back up and with 15km to go, it still looked likely they would make the catch. Especially as after the Hem sector, the gap shrunk to just 10 seconds of advantage but at that point no one was prepared to make the final bridging move, already thinking of the finish in the velodrome. And so that gap began to go out again as the lead group showed better cooperation. All that was left included Markus, Duval, Lach, Ragusa, Jackson, Borras and Truyen from the big group earlier in the day.
The gap hovered around a dozen seconds and those riders came into the velodrome first and were free to contest the victory. A crash for Markus with 500m to go was a painful end to her chances after a touch of wheels. As it was, Alison Jackson positioned herself perfectly to sprint home for the win and become the first North American to win any version of Paris Roubaix in its history.
“When I came here with the reconnaissance on the track, I dreamed of winning. But I thought it would stay with dreams, because most dreams are deceptions. That makes it even more incredible that it worked out. I didn’t have to wait to achieve that. I wanted to be part of an early move and make the race. That way you can also more easily avoid chaos and bad luck.
In the final we came forward with seven, but only four ladies wanted to ride. Then I thought: either I don’t participate and we are taken back anyway, or I drive full and you at least have a chance of winning. Fortunately I had a clear track in the sprint. It’s always a special feeling to win, but even more so here on this iconic track.”Alison Jackson
“I am very happy, I don’t know what to say. This is crazy. This is a dream, we got five minutes ahead of the peloton. Then I already said to Jesse Vandenbulcke: hopefully I’m not dreaming. It was a goal to get into that big breakaway, but I never expected to get so much space. That is an incredible result. It comes as a surprise to me, but I am very happy with it.”Marthe Truyen
“I got a push and then my wheel slipped. And then I couldn’t do anything anymore. This is in my eyes the most beautiful competition there is. And we came here to win. It feels especially bad to me towards the team. If you’re in a position like that and you can’t finish it… I still felt very good. Because Lotte rode behind us, I could also do fewer turns. So it’s definitely a shame, I think this will make me sleep badly for a few more days.”Femke Markus
“I didn’t really see the front today. I was just before the first lane in a crash and then I had a puncture. Then I had to go from group to group and I was picked up by teammates every time. It makes no sense to keep everyone waiting because then you won’t have anyone left in the front. There was nothing else to do but keep riding.
I had a lot of help at the end. I never thought we would get this close. It was a lot of suffering, but it turns out that never giving up pays off. I think the spectators saw a great race.”Marianne Vos
2023 Paris Roubaix Femmes result
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