2nd Paris-Roubaix Femmes, April 16th, 2022




It’s been six months since Lizzie Deignan broke free on the Hornaing à Wandignies pavé. Difficult conditions, crashes and the rest of the Trek team did their best to mess up the chase behind, and despite a hard push by Marianne Vos nothing could stop Deignan from becoming the first female winner of Paris-Roubaix after an 80 km long solo break.

The Brit is currently pregnant with her second child and won’t be able to defend the title, so a new queen of the cobbles will be crowned on Saturday.

Favorites
Some of the riders who either did well in the inaugural edtion or who may have the skills/form to finish high up this time:
Marianne Vos, Lotte Kopecky, Marta Bastianelli, Marta Cavalli, Emma Norsgaard, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Christine Majerus, Lorena Wiebes, Elisa Balsamo, Ellen van Dijk, Floortje Mackaij, Aude Biannic, Grace Brown, Silvia Persico, Coryn Labecki, Elise Chabbey. Audrey Cordon-Ragot, Lucinda Brand, Elisa Longo Borghini, and Mieke Kröger.

Interesting riders who aren’t taking part: Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Covid), Annemiek van Vleuten, Demi Vollering, Shirin van Anrooij, Lisa Brennauer (Covid), Franziska Koch (broken hand), Yara Kastelijn, Kasia Niewiadoma, Anna Henderson, Blanka Vas and Marlen Reusser.

Full start list: https://firstcycling.com/race.php?r=13853&y=2022&k=8

Weather
No rain and not too much wind. Temperatures between 12 and 18 °C during the race.

TV coverage
The race starts an hour earlier this year (12:35 CEST). ES/GCN begins their coverage at 13:15, but I’m not sure when they’ll have live pictures from the race.

Route
Same procedure as last year, but with an additional local lap in Denain making the race just shy of 125 km long.




(The 2021 profile)

 
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Don't think Lizzie ever intended it to be a solo flight all that way, but when the race dealt her that hand she doubled down and went ridiculously deep to hold it, while behind a fair bit of tentative racing from a group of riders not really sure what to expect from a race completely unlike anything they usually get to do gave it a real 1992 Ronde van Vlaanderen kind of vibe that makes the mythologising and rewriting a bit OTT, but hey, you can only be the first once, and Lizzie has every right to say, I don't care how it happened, I damned well earnt that win.

But as yaco says, I think last year was a bit of an anomaly precisely because nobody really knew how to race it and also because it wasn't in its usual calendar spot, and a lot of people were too conservative and allowed the speculative effort enough time to become a potentially race winning effort - though Lizzie still needed to commit in order to make it work. It wasn't one of her vintage 2015-16 era wins when she was clearly the strongest rider in the field; this time, instead, she was the one that dared. Subsequent events showed that Vos was probably the strongest on the day - but being the strongest only counts for so much when you give away such a headstart. And it's not like they can claim the Anna Kiesenhofer card either, because if riders should have been more aware of Kiesenhofer's capabilities, anybody riding in the elite women's peloton in 2021 not familiar with Lizzie Deignan has no business being there.

The position in the calendar this year being a little mixed up with Roubaix being after Amstel, and Amstel being distanced from its Ardennes cousins, makes it a bit more of a crapshoot on form, with those riders who have been in form but whose skillset point toward the Ardennes skipping this one. Those with Covid obviously have little choice, but while Vollering and Niewiadoma are no surprise, I thought van Vleuten and Longo Borghini - especially with Trek not having the services of Deignan of course - might have been minded to try.
 
Don't think Lizzie ever intended it to be a solo flight all that way, but when the race dealt her that hand she doubled down and went ridiculously deep to hold it, while behind a fair bit of tentative racing from a group of riders not really sure what to expect from a race completely unlike anything they usually get to do gave it a real 1992 Ronde van Vlaanderen kind of vibe that makes the mythologising and rewriting a bit OTT, but hey, you can only be the first once, and Lizzie has every right to say, I don't care how it happened, I damned well earnt that win.

But as yaco says, I think last year was a bit of an anomaly precisely because nobody really knew how to race it and also because it wasn't in its usual calendar spot, and a lot of people were too conservative and allowed the speculative effort enough time to become a potentially race winning effort - though Lizzie still needed to commit in order to make it work. It wasn't one of her vintage 2015-16 era wins when she was clearly the strongest rider in the field; this time, instead, she was the one that dared. Subsequent events showed that Vos was probably the strongest on the day - but being the strongest only counts for so much when you give away such a headstart. And it's not like they can claim the Anna Kiesenhofer card either, because if riders should have been more aware of Kiesenhofer's capabilities, anybody riding in the elite women's peloton in 2021 not familiar with Lizzie Deignan has no business being there.

The position in the calendar this year being a little mixed up with Roubaix being after Amstel, and Amstel being distanced from its Ardennes cousins, makes it a bit more of a crapshoot on form, with those riders who have been in form but whose skillset point toward the Ardennes skipping this one. Those with Covid obviously have little choice, but while Vollering and Niewiadoma are no surprise, I thought van Vleuten and Longo Borghini - especially with Trek not having the services of Deignan of course - might have been minded to try.
AVV has a lot of other goals this year, and I suspect her experience last year has probably also made her and the team a bit more reluctant to do the race. With a very capable leader in Norsgaard and a great lieutenant in Biannic they don't really need her either.
 
There's no real reason ladies' Roubaix shouldn't at least be 150-160km right?
If they started the race in Cambrai and followed the D942 to St. Python and then the D955 to Denain, they coould make the race around 146 km long with the last 100 km being the same as in the men's race. Then they would hit the first cobbles after 42 km and Arenberg after 50 km.

They could also sue the sportive routes they already have closed off to avoid further logistical challenges. It also depends on whether they'll continue to hold the races on seperate days, which wasn't the initial idea.
 
Reactions: yaco and Red Rick
Bit of shame so many of my favourite riders are missing, so I'll mostly be cheering for the cyclo-cross riders. Vos, to see if she can add this to her palmares, Brand, and also hoping Planta-Pantura can do something on their debut. Would be great if Van Dijk got a result after chasing down moves for her team mates all season. And interested to see if Wiebes v Balsamo also has the potential to become a P-R rivalry.
 

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