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Could Annemiek van Vleuten ride Paris-Roubaix?
The road world championships TT and road race favorite is contemplating a start at the inaugural women’s “Hell of the North” on October 2 but hasn’t made her final decision yet.
Van Vleuten, who is best known for her exploits on cycling’s biggest climbs, is tempted by the historic occasion but knows it’s a race that doesn’t suit her. She also has plans to take part in the Women’s Tour, which begins October 4.
“I’m still not sure so but because I will be racing the women’s tour and there is only one day in between and so we are still a little bit unsure if I will race Roubaix or not,” van Vleuten told VeloNews.
“It’s a milestone for women’s cycling, but I would not say it suits me the best. So, I would say that’s why I’m a bit unsure. The motivation is more like I want to experience it but for me, like being a climber, it’s the same as if you asked Egan Bernal if he wants to do Roubaix. It’s a bit like that.”
The first-ever Paris-Roubaix Femmes was first announced in 2020 when the cycling calendar was changed up due to the entire season grinding to a halt amidst the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. However, it and the rescheduled men’s race had to be canceled as a result of new COVID-19 restrictions being introduced to the Nord region shortly before it was due to be held.
It was then due to go ahead in the usual April slot, alongside the men’s event, but was once again postponed. The shift to October has allowed organizer ASO to put the women’s race on a day ahead of the men’s, a rare occurrence for concurrent events such as this.
ASO announced the route for the race earlier this week, which will include 17 cobbled sectors as the race winds its way from Denain to the Roubaix velodrome.
The introduction of Paris-Roubaix Femmes is part of an influx of new races on the women’s calendar, some of which are attached to existing men’s races while others are not, and marked changes with how the women’s side of the sport is run. During her 13 years as a professional, van Vleuten has seen a significant improvement in the development of the sport.
“When I look back as I started my career it was an amateur sport that I started in 2008 with my first UCI team, Vrienden van het Platteland. And if I look back at that time, we were all amateurs,” van Vleuten said. “Also, there were only three or four girls that got paid at a professional level, maybe. We’ve made huge steps and I think this sport is developing in a really good direction and I’m happy to be part of that.”
Van Vleuten has not put a deadline on when she will decide on Paris-Roubaix participation. She will be contesting the world championships time trial in Flanders on Monday before taking on the road race Saturday.