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The British star attacked on the first cobbles, and never looked back.
The 2015 world champion dropped the hammer with more than 80km to go, stayed upright, and avoided traffic to finish alone in the photo in cycling’s most famous velodrome.
“I feel so incredibly proud,” Deignan said. “The athletes proved today we can do one of the hardest races of the world, and I am so proud I am the first winner of one of the hardest races of the world.”
Marianne Vos (Jumbo Visma) put up a brave fight, opening up a late attack on the Carrefour de l’Arbre sector, but could not bring back the Brit.
— Paris-Roubaix (@Paris_Roubaix) October 2, 2021
Vos hit second, with Elisa Longo Borghini finishing third to give Trek-Segafredo two of three spots on the final podium.
Nerves, emotions riding high at start
Nerves and emotions were riding high at the start for the historic first edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes, even more so following overnight rain that left some sectors covered in mud.
Some 129 riders started in Deinan, and after 34km of three laps of a paved circuit, the main pack sprinted onto the first major sector of cobbles with 85km to go.
Deignan opened up a gap north of one minute after the opening sectors as the main bunch fractured under crashes, punctures and the general chaos that comes with racing on the cobbles.
“That really wasn’t the plan,” Deignan said. “The plan was to be at the front on the first cobbles, and I looked behind me, and there was no one there. So I just kept going.”
Overnight rain left some pavé sectors slicker than ice, and several riders, including newly minted world champion Elisa Balsamo, were sent clattering to the ground.
Deignan did not relent and steered clear of danger when a seven-rider group formed following some flares from Marianne Vos.
Vos gives chase, but too late
Conditions worsened as the race unfolded. Overnight rain turned the already treacherous cobbles into an extra challenge, and light rain fell in the final hour of racing.
Vos led a concerted chase with 35km to go, and a group of chasing seven formed to keep Deignan on a leash of just more than two minutes.
Vos decided it was too late to wait, and jumped ahead of the Carrefour de l’Arbre sector with 20km to go, and it was a smart move. A few riders crashed out of the chase group behind her, including Ellen van Dijk,
Vos trimmed the gap to nearly a minute, but Deignan turned on her TT motor once she cleared the Carrefour. Longo Borghini survived the bedlam to give chase in Vos’s wake.
The closing kilometers was a pursuit race between the two titans of women’s racing. Deignan — alone at the front all day — was alone at the finish line.
History was made Saturday with an exclamation point.
Paris-Roubaix Femmes Results
|1||DEIGNAN Elizabeth||Trek-Segafredo Women||2:56:07|
|2||VOS Marianne||Team Jumbo-Visma Women||1:17|
|3||LONGO BORGHINI Elisa||Trek-Segafredo Women||1:47|
|4||BRENNAUER Lisa||Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling||1:51|
|5||BASTIANELLI Marta||Alé BTC Ljubljana||2:10|
|6||NORSGAARD Emma||Movistar Team||2:10|
|7||KOCH Franziska||Team DSM||2:10|
|8||CORDON-RAGOT Audrey||Trek-Segafredo Women||2:10|
|9||CAVALLI Marta||FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||2:10|
|10||VAN DEN BROEK-BLAAK Chantal||SD Worx||2:10|
|11||MAJERUS Christine||SD Worx||3:03|
|12||THOMAS Leah||Movistar Team||3:03|
|13||VAN 'T GELOOF Marjolein||Drops - Le Col s/b TEMPUR.||3:03|
|14||PIETERS Amy||SD Worx||4:26|
|15||KOPECKY Lotte||Liv Racing||4:33|
|16||LUDWIG Cecilie Uttrup||FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||4:33|
|17||BEEKHUIS Teuntje||Team Jumbo-Visma Women||4:36|
|18||KASPER Romy||Team Jumbo-Visma Women||4:41|
|19||MARTINS Maria||Drops - Le Col s/b TEMPUR.||5:55|
|20||JOUNIER Lucie||Arkéa Pro Cycling Team||5:55|
|21||BIANNIC Aude||Movistar Team||6:04|
|22||CONFALONIERI Maria Giulia||Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling||6:20|
|23||ROY Sarah||Team BikeExchange||6:20|
|24||JACKSON Alison||Liv Racing||6:20|
|25||CECCHINI Elena||SD Worx||6:24|
|26||BARNES Alice||Canyon SRAM Racing||6:24|
|27||DUVAL Eugénie||FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||6:28|
|28||HENDERSON Anna||Team Jumbo-Visma Women||6:37|
|29||CROMWELL Tiffany||Canyon SRAM Racing||7:59|
|30||CONSONNI Chiara||Valcar - Travel & Service||8:27|
|31||RIJNBEEK Maud||NXTG Racing||8:27|
|32||VAN DIJK Ellen||Trek-Segafredo Women||8:32|
|33||MACKAIJ Floortje||Team DSM||8:35|
|34||MARKUS Riejanne||Team Jumbo-Visma Women||8:57|
|35||VAN DER HULST Amber||Parkhotel Valkenburg||9:04|
|36||LACH Marta||Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling||9:04|
|37||BOSSUYT Shari||NXTG Racing||9:08|
|38||LE NET Marie||FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||9:25|
|39||MARKUS Femke||Parkhotel Valkenburg||9:43|
|40||BRAAM Danique||Lotto Soudal Ladies||9:53|
|41||WIEL Jade||FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||9:55|
|42||VANDENBULCKE Jesse||Lotto Soudal Ladies||9:55|
|43||BUJAK Eugenia||Alé BTC Ljubljana||9:55|
|44||KESSLER Nina||Team TIBCO - SVB||9:55|
|45||SMULDERS Silke||Lotto Soudal Ladies||9:59|
|46||GUTIÉRREZ Sheyla||Movistar Team||11:32|
|47||PENTON Sara||Drops - Le Col s/b TEMPUR.||11:38|
|48||STEIGENGA Nicole||Doltcini - Van Eyck - Proximus CT||11:39|
|49||GUARISCHI Barbara||Movistar Team||11:41|
|50||CHABBEY Elise||Canyon SRAM Racing||11:41|
|51||VIGIE Margaux||Valcar - Travel & Service||11:41|
|52||HANSON Lauretta||Trek-Segafredo Women||11:41|
|53||UNEKEN Lonneke||SD Worx||12:00|
|54||DE ZOETE Mylène||NXTG Racing||12:00|
|55||VERHULST Gladys||Arkéa Pro Cycling Team||12:00|
|56||DEMEY Valerie||Liv Racing||12:00|
|57||BALSAMO Elisa||Valcar - Travel & Service||12:00|
|58||GEORGI Pfeiffer||Team DSM||12:00|
|59||BARNES Hannah||Canyon SRAM Racing||13:30|
|60||GROSSETÊTE Maëlle||FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope||13:35|
|61||PARKINSON Abby-Mae||Lotto Soudal Ladies||13:49|
Results provided by ProCyclingStats.