Elisa Longo Borghini solos to the win in 2022 after Lizzie Deignan took a historic first victory in 2021
Ripping a page from Lizzie Deignan’s book after her historic win in the 2021 Paris-Roubaix Femmes, Elisa Longo Borghini attacked a long way from the finish line in the second edition and never looked back.
The Italian champion built a half-minute lead that held steady for the next 35 kilometres and entered the Roubaix velodrome alone to give Trek-Segafredo a second straight victory in the Hell of the North.
“If you go, you have to believe from the beginning. I was just full gas. You don’t f**k around, just go,” said Longo Borghini about her audacious attack.
The moment when the tables could turn on Elisa was in the sectors four and five, two of the toughest rated, with 20 kilometres remaining.
Elisa entered the five-star Carrefour de l’Arbre with 23 seconds and, after two punishing kilometres, exited with 22. It was the last of the worst. Only 16 kilometres remained. Thoughts of victory now seemed plausible.
Behind a group of four chased, but two were from the Trek-Segafredo team. Lucinda Brand’s and Ellen van Dijk’s skulking presence was textbook and hindered the two others from becoming fully organized. Elisa’s gap grew again as the kilometres ticked off.
With one kilometre to go, it was a firm 35 seconds. Elisa could savour the moment of entering the iconic Roubaix velodrome alone.
“It’s unbelievable; you have many thoughts going around,” explained Elisa when asked what she was feeling at that moment. “You are in hell and then all of a sudden in paradise riding into a velodrome with a big history of cycling. I was thinking of my family, my boyfriend, and my teammates; this is who I ride for.
“It’s been a very tough spring for me, I had sinusitis for a month, and I couldn’t perform the way I wanted,” she continued. “I knew I was worth more, which was frustrating. It was a hard time and I need to thank first of all my family and my boyfriend Jacopo (Mosca) because they are all the time keeping my morale up, and secondly, my team Trek-Segafredo because they still had faith in me even though I didn’t perform the way I was supposed to. They brought me to this race even though I said I was not ready, but they kept saying, ‘You are more than ready, and we know you are capable of doing this.’ I have to say they were right.
“With sinusitis, you can’t really breathe, and in cycling breathing is everything. So I had to take a step back to take two forward. So I skipped Amstel Gold and Brabantse Pijl and was able to get rid of the infection with antibiotics. And in the end, if I feel good, I win,” laughed Elisa.
The Trek-Segafredo presence in the front of the race in all critical moments made the difference. Lucinda Brand marked a dangerous move by Lotte Kopecky and Marta Bastianelli over the gnarly four-star rated Auchy à Bersée with 54 kilometres to go.
The trio dangled out front with a 15-20 second advantage ringing alarm bells behind. When the threatening breakaway was finally caught back some 20 kilometres later, Elisa made her winning attack.
“Honestly, I wish I could bring all of my teammates to the podium today because it was a great team performance today, and I need to thank them all. Lucinda was perfect, and everyone was there where they needed to be in every sector. We were a determined squad and ready for everything today. It was a huge team performance, and without them, I would not win any single race.
“And also, this is a little bit for Elisa Balsamo, who was disqualified, but sometimes in the race, you grab a sticky bottle,” she continued, referring to the illegal move as Balsamo chased back from a puncture. “The rule is the rule, but you still feel a little bit sorry.”
Trek-Segafredo made history in 2021, winning the first-ever Paris Roubaix for women and placing two on the podium. One year later, they made sure history repeated itself with Lucinda Brand sprinting to third place behind Longo Borghini’s solo win.
“Now I will have a plaque on the showers,” Longo Borghini added. “It’s hard to realise this because I am just Elisa. But now I am in the middle of champions.”
Want to dive even deeper into what it takes to win Paris-Roubaix Femmes? Watch the latest episode of “The Run Up” and follow the team behind the scenes in the weeks and days leading up to the second women’s edition of road cycling’s most famed one-day race.