Paris Roubaix Femmes History
It’s a short history for the Paris Roubaix Femmes as the race has only been held since 2021. Originally earmarked for 2020, that edition to be held in the Autumn was postponed as the pandemic took hold again. Eventually moved into 2021, the first year saw a long-range move from Lizzie Deignan who attacked before the cobbles started to ensure a strong lead position on the very muddy cobbled sectors that year. With any hints of a chase battered by the slides and crashes of the peloton, the Brit held on successfully to win the main edition of Paris Roubaix Femmes.
The following year saw her Trek Segafredo teammate Elisa Longo Borghini take the victory in a more conventional style. Attacking from a small group with 38km to go, the Italian pushed on and maintained a gap of around half a minute to the Roubaix Velodrome. This means we’re still yet to see a head-to-head in the velodrome in the style of say Fabian Cancellara vs Sep Vanmarcke in 2013’s edition of the men’s race.
This year’s race has seen an extra long loop to the south of Denain added, to partly up the race distance but also encourage some more moves before the cobblestones arrive. There’s also just a smidge under 30km of pavé this season, certainly plenty to create splits amongst the favourites. Currently, conditions are for a gentle NNE wind, largely against the riders heading back to Roubaix. This should make for a slightly slower, tougher race than a tailwind. The mud from 2021 doesn’t look like it will be returning in 2023, although there will be some rain in the days before Saturday.
Elisa Longo Borghini
Paris Roubaix Femmes 2023 Profile
Paris Roubaix Femmes 2023 Cobbled Sectors
|Hornaing to Wandignies (3.7 km) ****
|Warlaing to Brillon (2.4 km) ***
|Tilloy to Sars-et-Rosières (2.4 km) ****
|Beuvry-la-Forêt to Orchies (1.4 km) ***
|Orchies (1.7 km) ***
|Auchy-lez-Orchies to Bersée (2.7 km) ****
|Mons-en-Pévèle (3 km) *****
|Merignies to Avelin (0.7 km) **
|Pont-Thibault to Ennevelin (1.4 km) ***
|Templeuve – L’Epinette (0.2 km) *
|Templeuve – Moulin-de-Vertain (0.5 km) **
|Cysoing to Bourghelles (1.3 km) ***
|Bourghelles to Wannehain (1.1 km) ***
|Camphin-en-Pévèle (1.8 km) ****
|Carrefour de l’Arbre (2.1 km) *****
|Gruson (1.1 km) **
|Willems to Hem (1.4 km) ***
|Roubaix-Espace Charles Crupelandt (0.3 km) *
Paris Roubaix Femmes 2023 Contenders
Lotte Kopecky comes into this year’s Paris Roubaix Femmes as the overwhelming favourite. The Belgian is in superlative form having won the Tour of Flanders and Omloop het Nieuwsblad convincingly with solo breaks. Her 2nd at Strade Bianche could easily have been another win as well. She’s stated that Paris Roubaix Femmes is even more of a goal for her this year than Flanders was, which is ominous for everyone else. The team is strong and also includes Lorena Wiebes but for once I think SD Worx have a genuine clear leader.
Last year’s Paris Roubaix Femmes winner Elisa Longo Borghini will be back again this season. The Italian has suffered with Covid in recent weeks but looked impressive on her way back to 3rd at last weekend’s Tour of Flanders. She was repeatedly distanced on the climbs but had enough in the tank to claw her way back to the front group again and again. On a pretty flat race like Paris Roubaix that should be less of an issue she will be a threat as Trek Segafredo look for a three-peat. Last year’s 3rd place Lucinda Brand is also going to be up for this one. 12th at Flanders whilst doing a tonne of work looked like a rider approaching the peak of their form. It’s also tough to rule out Elisa Balsamo who will certainly want to do better than year’s disqualification for overtaking riders whilst holding onto a bottle from the team car. I favour others on the Trek team I think.
5th in the inaugural edition, Marta Bastianelli will be a big threat if she can stay in a front group heading into the velodrome. She’s certainly got enough to power over the cobbles and against most of the other favourites, she will fancy her chances if the front of the race can stay together. The recent results have dwindled off a little bit as the classics races have got hillier but that won’t be an issue at Paris Roubaix Femmes.
Pfeiffer Georgi has been one of the stars of this year’s Spring Classics season. A maiden win in the wind at Classic Brugge-De Panne was a just reward after good rides at Omloop het Nieuwsblad and Strade Bianche. She had a tough go at Gent Wevelgem, repeatedly getting tangled in crashes and her 11th there should have been much higher if not for the amount of work she did to get back to the front of the race. She’s a rider with a big engine and you can’t help but feel a top-5 is on the cards. Charlotte Kool and Megan Jastrab are here as well but I favour Franziska Koch, 7th in the muddy 2021 Paris Roubaix Femmes to be the team’s second best option. She doesn’t have a major result to look at so far in 2023 but that’s because of the sheer amount of work she does for the team instead.
Maike van der Duin will be in the Women’s WorldTour young rider leader’s jersey for another race at Paris Roubaix Femmes. The Canyon SRAM rider is in great form in the last few races with 3rd at Gent Wevelgem, 7th at Classic Brugge-De Panne and a very impressive 13th at Tour of Flanders. The Dutch rider is a sort of Classics sprinter rather than a pure one and in this form, she’s likely to reach the velodrome in a group near the front. She could very well get a high finish this year. Teammate Shari Bossuyt is also going well at the moment. That includes a best finish of 5th in the front split at Classic Brugge-De Panne. She also made the top-10 in the crash-filled Gent Wevelgem race and a decent 18th at Tour de Flanders where I wasn’t fully sure how she would do on the tough climbing. Her best Paris Roubaix Femmes result so far is 37th but it feels like that is going to be improved this year. The hopes of Canyon SRAM probably rest most on Elise Chabbey. We’ve seen her on the attack plenty, with 11th at the Tour of Flanders her best result since 5th in GC back at the UAE Tour Women. The Swiss rider was 4th here last season and has the right attributes to be a threat once again before the velodrome.
Dutch rider Marjolein van ‘t Geloof finished 13th in the first Paris Roubaix Femmes and is another rider who has a good engine and a good kick at the end of races. She’s not had the best season so far in 2023 but there have been a couple of decent results here and there. 8th on the opening sprint at the UAE Tour Women was bettered by 6th at Le Samyn des Dames, a relatively similar race to this one just with the difficulty dialled down a bit. We’ve also got the rumour that Audrey Cordon-Ragot will represent Human Powered Health at this year’s Paris Roubaix Femmes after leaving Zaaf. She’s been spotted in the area but it’s up to the UCI to give the green light or not.
There’s still no Emma Norsgaard so Movistar hopes are pinned on Floortje Mackaij and Arlenis Sierra. Floortje Mackaij was 6th here last season and feels like an ideal rider for the cobbles although maybe not when it comes down to the velodrome. 6th at Dwaars Door Vlaanderen followed by 10th at Strade Bianche and the Dutch rider will surely be a threat as the leader. It’s a first time at Roubaix for Arlenis Sierra but you kinda fancy her to make it over the cobbles and have a kick left at the end. She’s done well in 2023, with 5th at Nokere Koerse, 4th at Trofeo Alfredo Binda and 10th last weekend at the Tour of Flanders. Will her lack of experience count against her though?
Grace Brown feels ideally suited to this race with her big engine. She was 12th in last year’s race and should be in the top-10 this season if she gets a clean run. Her classics season hasn’t been spectacular, but she’s consistently been just outside of the top-10. She looked in amazing form for the Tour Down Under back in January and this form cycle suggests maybe other goals this year.
Marianne Vos would dearly love to add this race to her massive palmares. She came close in 2021, finishing 2nd behind the lone leader Lizzie Deignan. Unfortunately she missed out on the eve of last year’s race coming down with Covid. After her post-cyclocross season surgery it was interesting to see what level she would be at. She was constantly on the attack at Dwars Door Vlaanderen on the way to 3rd there and should be in the hunt. Unlikely to go solo, she will relish the chance to sprint from a small group in the velodrome.
Paris Roubaix Femmes 2023 Outsiders
When it comes to Paris Roubaix Femmes, the cyclocross stars always get a nod. Fenix-Deceuninck’s Sanne Cant did a good job at Gent Wevelgem finishing 18th. That was whilst setting up teammate Christina Schweinberger for the sprint finish. The Belgian certainly has the off-road skills and getting to the finish of another classic in the front group is a sign of some decent form.
Sandra Alonso was 10th here last season but it’s hard to pin down where she is form-wise so far in 2023. She’s had a couple of moves in the top-10 of races, including a 5th back at the Women Cycling Pro Costa de Almeria. 7th on the opening day of the recent Tour de Normandie Féminin is a hint that maybe she can repeat last year’s result. Paris Roubaix Femmes is certainly a target for the Spanish rider.
We got to see Cofidis’ Victoire Berteau on the attack at Dwars door Vlaanderen in the move that included Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and eventually Marianne Vos. The French track rider is always one looking to get off the front of the bunch, she was also 17th here last season. That made her the highest French finisher and she would love to break into the top-15 this season.
Aude Biannic will no doubt have to work for Mackaij and Sierra but has stepped up decently when Norsgaard and Van Vleuten haven’t been around. The former French national champion was 8th at Omloop van het Hageland and 17th at Gent Wevelgem as the domestique starts to find her feet near the front of races again. She was 21st in the muddy 2021 edition and could be another top-20 rider again.
It’s a similar story for Romy Kasper, who is normally on team duties but is the sort of rider who can do well on this parcours. 18th and 19th in the previous 2 editions of Paris Roubaix Femmes, she’s an outside shot for the top-10 and 23rd on the hillier Tour of Flanders is an indicator that she has the form to target this race.