Hell of the North Awaits

The 4th edition of the Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift will call 24 teams of 6 riders to battle through the Hell of the North on Saturday 6th April. Defending champion Alison Jackson (EF Education-Cannondale) will lead the attackers willing to turn the race upside down. The bigger guns, led by Lotte Kopecky (Team SD Worx-Protime), Marianne Vos (Team Visma | Lease a Bike) and Lidl-Trek’s collective strength, will aim to control the chaos over 29.2km of cobblestones.

The first three editions of Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift crowned three very different winners in very different winning scenarios. The fourth edition winner will bring their own flair to succeed Elizabeth Deignan (2021), Elisa Longo Borghini (2022) and Alison Jackson (2023). A star studded peloton is gearing up in Denain ahead of Saturday’s battles over the cobbles, culminating in the finish at the André-Pétrieux velodrome where dreams come true.

Icons Marianne Vos (Team Visma | Lease a Bike) and the UCI World Champion Lotte Kopecky (Team SD Worx-Protime) are among the bigger names yet to raise aloft the iconic winner’s cobble at the end of the Hell of the North. The Dutch queen and her Belgian successor are cut out for the myth, as demonstrated by their 2nd places so far in Roubaix (Vos in 2021, Kopecky in 2022), but the triumph has escaped them so far, either due to tactics or bad luck.

This year, Kopecky heads a power duo alongside Lorena Wiebes, who continually impresses with her progress in the Classics, underlined by her victory in Gent-Wevelgem while Vos remains Visma | Lease a Bike’s main prospect. Recent weeks have shown how strong they are heading into Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift. Strong enough to tame the cobblestones as well as their rivals? Only time will tell.

The terrain is well known, with 17 sections adding up to an arduous 29.2km of cobbles to overcome. Of course, the opposition is impressive as well.

After winning and placing two riders on the podiums of the first two editions of Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift, Lidl-Trek comes with strength in numbers again. Lucinda Brand came 3rd in the velodrome in 2022. Ellen van Dijk is firing on all cylinders since she returned to competition in early March after giving birth. Although Elisa Balsamo hasn’t been successful in her first attempts in the Hell of the North, she proved in recent weeks that she is back to her very best with back-to-back victories in Cittiglio and De Panne.

Her compatriot Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ) is on an impressive roll of form as well, but victory eludes her at the moment. Anyone arriving at the velodrome with her should be wary of Chiara’s speed and her stellar past as a track rider. Fast women such as Charlotte Kool (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL) and Emma Norsgaard (Movistar Team) can also count on their sprints, while rising talents such as Pfeiffer Georgi (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL) and Zoe Bäckstedt (Canyon//Sram Racing) have the skills to animate the race.

Attacking often pays dividends in Roubaix. Last year, six riders from the early breakaway narrowly resisted the peloton, and most of them will be back this weekend in the wake of Alison Jackson (EF Education-Cannondale) – Katia Ragusa (Human Powered Health), Marthe Truyen (Fenix-Deceuninck), Marion Borras (St Michel-Mavic-Auber93) and Marta Lach (Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team). It will be fascinating to see how they plan to turn the race upside down this time.

24 TEAMS, THE MAIN CONTENDERS

Australia

Liv-AlUla-Jayco: Amber Pate (Aus), Letizia Paternoster (Ita)

Belgium

AG Insurance-Soudal Team: Kim Le Court (Mri), Ilse Pluimers (Ned)

Fenix-Deceuninck: Christina Schweinberger (Aut), Marthe Trugen (Bel)

France

Arkéa-B&B Hotels Women: Emilia Fahlin (Swe)

Cofidis Women Team: Victoire Berteau (Fra)

FDJ-Suez: Grace Brown (Aus), Amber Kraak (Ned)

St Michel-Mavic-Auber93: Marion Borras (Fra), Roxane Fournier (Fra)

Team Komugi-Grand Est: Chloé Charpentier (Fra)

Winspace: Constance Valentin (Fra)

Germany

Canyon//Sram Racing: Zoe Bäckstedt (Gbr), Elise Chabbey (Sui)

Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team: Nina Berton (Lux), Marta Lach (Pol)

Great Britain

Lifeplus Wahoo: Eluned King (Gbr)

The Netherlands

Team DSM-Firmenich PostNL: Pfeiffer Georgi (Gbr), Charlotte Kool (Ned)

Team SD Worx-Protime: Lotte Kopecky (Bel), Lorena Wiebes (Ned)

Team Visma | Lease a Bike: Marianne Vos (Ned)

VolkerWessels Women’s Pro Cycling Team: Anneke Dijkstra (Ned)

Norway

Team Coop-Repsol: April Tacey (GBR)

Uno-X Mobility: Anniina Ahtosalo (Fin), Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita)

Spain

Movistar Team: Emma Norsgaard Bjerg (Den), Arlenis Sierra (Cub)

Switzerland

Roland: Maggie Coles-Lyster (Can)

The UAE

UAE Team ADQ: Chiara Consonni (Ita)

The USA

EF Education-Cannondale: Alison Jackson (Can)

Human Powered Health: Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Fra), Katia Ragusa (Ita)

Lidl-Trek: Elisa Balsamo (Ita), Lucinda Brand (Ned), Ellen van Dijk (Ned)

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