How the race finished
Alison Jackson (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) won Paris Roubaix after a dramatic race saw the breakaway stay clear. Katja Ragusa (Liv Racing TeqFind) and Marte Truyen (Fenix-Deceuninck) completed the podium, with the favourites finishing in the chase bunch just a few seconds behind.
Full results are available below.
How it happened
After rain washed through northern France earlier in the week, the women’s peloton took on 145.4km with 29km of slippery pavé, coming in 17 separate cobbled sectors. Unlike a number of recent races, where the peloton hasn’t let a break go, a large break formed early. Seventeen riders in total got up the road, including riders from most teams.
Two of the favourite teams, however, missed the break. Team Jumbo Visma, with skilled cyclocross rider Marianne Vos, were not represented at the front. Having also missed the move, SD Worx quickly sent Femke Markus to bridge up solo, making it eighteen riders up front.
With most teams being represented up front, the peloton sat up, and the gap quickly extended to over a minute, and then kept climbing. By the time they hit the first cobbled sector, the break had a lead of over 5 minutes. In sector 16 of the cobbles with 73km left to race, Daniek Hengeveld (Team DSM) pushed on, going clear of the rest of her breakaway companions.
A few kilometers later, Marianne Vos suffered an unfortunate puncture, which left her, alongside Marie Le Net (FDJ-Suez), chasing to get back for a long time. The gap yoyoed between 20 and 45 seconds as they tried to keep the bunch in sight, but it would be a long time before they were able to reconnect. In the main bunch ahead, Elisa Balsamo accelerated on the front, putting the power down as Trek-Segafredo tried to keep the breakaway within reach to be able to launch a winning move.
At just over 50km to go, with the breakaway still holding over 3 minutes on the main peloton, Lotte Kopecky put in an attack on a cobbled sector. Looking supremely strong, Kopecky rode away as a handful of riders crashed behind her. The move drew a small group clear, including defending champion Elise Longo-Borghini and teammate Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo), Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM) and Elise Chabbey (Canyon//Sram Racing).
Up front, the breakaway continued to power on, breaking into smaller groups and coming back together. With around 44km remaining Hengeveld’s time solo out front was over, and she was reabsorbed into breakaway. Behind them, the chasing peloton had swelled again, and the group of favourites were steadily making their way back to the front of the race, bringing the gap down to under 2 minutes.
On the next cobble section the chasing group set about putting the pressure on, hammering across the pavé to get back to the leaders. But suddenly, in a race defining moment, Elisa Longo-Borghini slipped out in second wheel. In slow motion, almost every riders behind her came down. The only rider who had been ahead of Longo-Borghini, Romy Kasper (AG Insurance Soudal Quickstep) was left riding on solo, while the others picked themselves up and surveyed the damage behind.
This resulted in a few moments of chaos and a complete reshuffle of riders on the road, with some going forwards and some falling back. Race favourite Lotte Kopecky was one of the slowest to get back on the bike, but eventually reconnected with the chasing bunch, which by now also included Marianne Vos and a number of her teammates, alongside Elisa Longo Borghini and Grace Brown (FDJ-Suez). They rejoined Romy Kasper at around 28km to go, at which stage the leading group of 15 riders still held an advantage of 2 minutes.
With SD-Worx, Team Jumbo Visma, UAE Team-AQD and Trek-Segafredo all working, the gap fell quickly. As they approached the final cobbled sectors and 5km to go, the leaders were in sight at 15 seconds up the road. Just when the catch seemed almost inevitable, the gap stayed steady, and then, under the pressure of Marta Lach and Alison Jackson who forced a split up front, started to slowly increase again. The bunch behind had become complacent, and as the remaining seven riders from the break entered the velodrome, they could no longer feel the peloton breathing down their necks.
So it was to be – the breakaway were not caught, and battled it out amongst themselves to the line. Sadly Femke Markus, who had played an excellent defensive role for Team SD Worx all day, slipped out on the last lap, her dreams of bringing it home for the team crashing to the ground. Then Alison Jackson, who had been instrumental in keeping the break clear all day, drove it home from the front, shaking her head in disbelief as she crossed the finish line.
Katia Ragusa (Liv Racing TeqFind) came through for second spot, while Marthe Truyen (Fenix-Deceunink) had a breakthrough ride to claim third. Eugene Duval was the first french rider home, in fourth place.
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