Stars Align For Paris-Roubaix Femmes Avec Zwift

The third edition of Paris–Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift, which will roll out of Denain on Saturday, 8 April, will bring together the brightest stars in the classics constellation. Trek–Segafredo has a crown to defend. The American outfit has won the first two editions and is eyeing a hat-trick with a three-pronged assault involving the reigning champion, Elisa Longo Borghini, Lucinda Brand (third last year) and the former world champion Elisa Balsamo.

No rival appears more dangerous than Lotte Kopecky. The Belgian comes as the hot favourite after bagging her second Tour of Flanders in a row last Sunday, but her teammate Lorena Wiebes has also got an ace or two up her sleeve. All eyes will be on the queen, Marianne Vos, who is eager to settle the score in the Hell of the North.

Excitement is reaching fever pitch with four days to go until the Queen of Classics. The time has come for the favourites to recce the sectors and write down their names on the start list, brimming with the best classics specialists. Trek–Segafredo, chasing a hat-trick after winning the first two editions, naturally tops the bill. This is the first time that a champion returns to defend her title. Last year, Elizabeth Deignan was on a break from racing to prepare for the birth of her second child, but Elisa Longo Borghini will be there on Saturday in a bid to become the first two-time winner of the event.

Impressive since her return to competition at the UAE Tour (with victories on Jebel Hafeet and in the general classification), the Italian just finished third in the Tour of Flanders. She will be leading a three-pronged assault also consisting of the former world champion Elisa Balsamo, who is thirsting for revenge after getting disqualified for a sticky bottle last year, and Lucinda Brand, who escorted Longo Borghini on the podium a year ago. The cyclo-cross ace dreams of following in the footsteps of the Italian, who also came in third the year preceding her triumph.

Yet all eyes are on another Dutchwoman, the notorious Marianne Vos, queen of queens. The most decorated rider in the history of women’s cycling has a bone to pick with the Hell of the North. The Jumbo–Visma leader came tantalisingly close in the inaugural edition, where she was the runner-up to Deignan, and had to pull out on the morning of the race last year due to COVID. Her 24-year-old compatriot Lorena Wiebes will be another woman to watch. After jumping ship from Team DSM to SD Worx last winter, the best sprinter on Earth has stepped up her game in the classics.

She will be flanking the odds-on favourite, Lotte Kopecky, who just bagged her third win in five races this season in the Tour of Flanders, where she came out on top for the second year in a row. She dreams of becoming the first Belgian to claim Paris–Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift. Last year, she led the chase group home to take second place, 23 seconds behind Longo Borghini. FDJ–Suez is banking on Grace Brown (twelfth last year) and Vittoria Guazzini, who has been rock-solid this spring.

The local contingent is pinning its hopes on Victoire Berteau (Cofidis), the top French finisher last year (seventeenth), Aude Biannic (Movistar), riding in support of the Dutchwoman Floortje Mackaij (sixth last year), and Margaux Vigié (Lifeplus Wahoo), the breakthrough performer of the early season and twenty-first in the Tour of Flanders. Pundits will watch the first steps in the career of the prodigy Zoe Bäckstedt (EF Education–Tibco–SVB) with great interest. The former Junior World Champion from Wales is still 18 years old and certainly has the right pedigree, as her father Magnus, who will be directing the Canyon//SRAM team of the Swiss Elise Chabbey (fourth last year), won the men’s race 19 years ago.

24 teams, main contenders:

Germany

Canyon//SRAM: Chabbey (SUI)

Ceratizit–WNT Pro Cycling Team: Alonso (ESP)

 

Australia

Team Jayco AlUla: Paternoster (ITA)

 

Belgium

AG Insurance–Soudal–Quick-Step: Borgström (SWE), Kasper (GER) and Henttala (FIN)

Fenix–Deceuninck: Schweinberger (AUT), De Wilde (BEL) and Cant (BEL)

 

United Arab Emirates

UAE Team ADQ: Bastianelli and Consonni (ITA)

 

Spain

Movistar Team Women: Biannic (FRA) and Mackaij (NED)

Zaaf Cycling Team: Coles-Lyster (CAN)

 

United States

Trek–Segafredo: Balsamo, Longo Borghini (ITA) and Brand (NED)

EF Education–Tibco–SVB: Bäckstedt (GBR), Jackson (CAN) and Borghesi (ITA)

Human Powered Health: Van ‘t Geloof (NED) and Vandenbulcke (BEL)

France

FDJ–Suez: Brown (AUS), Copponi, Le Net (FRA) and Guazzini (ITA)

Cofidis Women Team: Berteau (FRA) and Castrique (BEL)

Arkéa Pro Cycling Team: Fouquenet and Le Deunff (FRA)

St. Michel–Mavic–Auber93: Boilard (CAN) and Fournier (FRA)

Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime: Abgrall and Squiban (FRA)

United Kingdom

Lifeplus Wahoo: Vigié (FRA)

Norway

Uno-X Pro Cycling Team: Andersen (NOR), Dideriksen, Leth (DEN) and Confalonieri (ITA)

Netherlands

SD Worx: Kopecky (BEL) and Wiebes (NED)

Team Jumbo–Visma: Rivera (USA) and Vos (NED)

Team DSM: Georgi (GBR) and Kool (NED)

Liv Racing TeqFind: Neumanová (CZE)

Parkhotel Valkenburg: Nooijen and Van Haaften (NED)

 

Switzerland

Israel Premier Tech Roland: Buch (GER)

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