Lizzie Deignan on the triumph of Paris-Roubaix Femmes: “We are part of history now, there is no going back”


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ROUBAIX, France (VN) – If you want to write history, do it in a style suitable for history books.

Lizzie Deignan hit the very first cobblestone sector ever run by the women’s peloton and rode solo for two hours to win the first Paris-Roubaix Femmes on Saturday.

It was a boulder race more than worthy of the monumental occasion, but one that was never the plan – Trek Segafredo had initially scheduled Deignan teammates Elisa Longo Borgini and Ellen van Dijk for team management.

“It was completely surreal. This morning I was here as a teammate. I never thought or dreamed of winning the race myself, ”Deignan told reporters after his race.

“Finding myself in a position where I was solo, after such a big effort, was an incredibly special moment. I think with experience, you learn that these moments don’t happen that often in your career, and I really cherished that last lap of the velodrome.

A solo of 80 kilometers is an experience that few walks are able to savor. Deignan acknowledged that doing it in a race that caused such a wave of attention both in cycling and the sporting world in general took his victory far beyond the norm.

“I haven’t had much of a chance to think about it yet, but one of the best,” Deignan said of placing the race in a record that includes a world title and victories at Liège Bastogne Liège, the Tour of Flanders and the Women’s Tour. .

“I mean, I guess in men’s cycling Paris-Roubaix is ​​classified as a monument and we’re getting more and more professional and winning new iconic races… being able to be the first winner of such an important race is definitely up there. “

We are part of history now … there is no turning back

Although Deignan has spoken of the increased professionalization of women’s racing and the growing attention it receives in her 15th professional season, the latent issue of price parity has given the 32-year-old pause for thought.

The prize pool of € 7,005 for the women’s race on Saturday is derisory compared to the € 91,000 available for men on Sunday. For Deignan, it must be one step at a time.

“Obviously, the first step is for us to have a Paris-Roubaix. And I think that’s a huge step forward. And I’m very grateful to be able to be a part of this story that is being organized. We’re part of history now, and there’s no going back, and I think it’s incredibly important, ”she said.

“Obviously the prize money is disappointing, but I think it’s a good time to highlight what my Trek-Segafredo team is doing. They matched the cash prize of the men’s equivalent races we’ve done, not just this race, but the entire season. It takes initiatives like that kind of support from sponsors and brands to push the boundaries and every aspect like that that we need to keep pushing, we’re not there yet.

“But we are no longer silent about it. I think it is important.

Safer, solo

Deignan took the lead on Saturday on the cobbled section of Hornaing in Wandignies almost by mistake. The 32-year-old was one of the first in the peloton to hit the first cobblestone area as she worked for van Dijk and Longo Borghini. After 3.7 km of cobblestones, Deignan was on his way to victory.

“I picked up a bit of speed in the first sector because I really had to sprint to be there,” she said. “I took that speed on the cobbles and actually I looked behind me at the end of the cobbles and I had a gap… I thought as long as I’m in front they have to chase behind. So I sort of roll 75% until I got about a minute, then I got the phone on the radio that I had to go 100%.

Deignan widened a gap of more than two minutes after covering 82.5 km to go, correcting several slips and skids through the fatty cobbles as he went. Behind her, handfuls of horsemen piled up on the ground as the rain caused chaos on the already slippery stones.

Being alone in front gave Deignan a huge advantage as the race descended into chaos behind.

“I knew it would be worse for the group. I knew I had an advantage to be alone and able to choose the lines. It was incredibly muddy in some sections, ”she said. “And you know I’m not a cyclocrosser, I don’t have a lot of experience in muddy conditions. So I took some advice from my teammate, Lucinda Brand, she said, “Whatever you do, keep pedaling.”

Deignan kept pedaling until she reached the velodrome on Saturday. And like Deignan, the women’s peloton will not stop moving either. The next Paris-Roubaix Women arrives in six months, and just after the Women’s Tour de France in summer.

History has been written, and will continue to be rewritten for some time to come.

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