Elisa Longo Borghini, an Italian sun in the “Hell of the North”

The Italian Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) and her teammate, the Dutch Lucinda Brand, 3rd, at the end of the second women's edition of the classic Paris-Roubaix on April 16.

This year, “hell” was more welcoming… Well, except in the eyes of Audrey Cordon-Ragot. “I’m a bit disappointed by the weather, I prefer when it’s cold, when it rains, but we adapt. It was very dry, very dusty.”, confesses the Frenchwoman from Trek-Segafredo, Saturday April 16, at the end of the second women’s edition of Paris-Roubaix. But I do not regret. The Briton showed a wide smile, that of the runner proud of her work and her team.

Minutes before -under a radiant sun- his partner Elisa Longo Borghini enjoyed her lap of honor at the old velodrome of the “city of a thousand chimneys”. Third in 2021the Italian conquered the “queen of the classics”, after an acceleration at the exit of the Templeuve sector.

Longo Borghini, however, did not enter this encounter with full confidence. “I was still taking antibiotics not too long ago”explained the 30-year-old woman, who had chosen to ignore the last races -Amstel Gold Race and Flèche brabançonne- to prepare as well as possible for this Women’s Paris-Roubaix.

As in October, another runner from the American team ends up in the “box”: the Dutch Lucinda Brand is 3me. Belgian Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) completes the podium. Northerner Victoire Berteau (Cofidis) finishes 16thme and first French.

Teamwork

What is great happiness? In the case of Elisa Longo Borghini, miraculously caught slipping on the cobblestones of Camphin-en-Pévèle. Leading the race with some twenty seconds on her pursuers, the Italian champion almost fell in a curve of the formidable sector 5.

Her victory, the Italian champion, is also due to her classmates, starting with Ellen Van Dijk and Lucinda Brand. Present in the chasing group, the two Dutchmen were two passengers too cumbersome for the rest of the cyclists, and in particular for Lotte Kopecky, recent winner of the Tour of Flanders but powerless against the numerical superiority of the American team.

“As soon as Elisa isolated herself from the front, I knew it was a good opportunity. The other teams lacked teammates to ride her. She is very strong in these kinds of situations, she has won all the great races of hers this way. she knows how to do it summarizes Audrey Cordon-Ragot. We have shown that teamwork is our specialty. In a race like Roubaix, it’s worth it. »

“We were four FDJs, like the Treks, before my flat tire [à environ 25 kilomètres de l’arrivée]. No, they are not unbeatable, it just takes a bit of luck or you can provoke it », Slips a little bitter Maëlle Grossetête (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine). Her teammate, Italian Marta Cavalli, winner of the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday April 10, finished 5me this Saturday.

“It’s a party, it’s a party”

Once across the line, Elisa Longo Borghini had a thought and a few words for her teammate and compatriot Elisa Balsamo, who was disqualified during the race. The jury of stewards considered that the world champion had established an irregular return to the peloton, after a puncture and a change of bike shortly before the Mons-en-Pévèle sector. More precisely a “stuck can”, in jargon

The technique is as old as cycling or, at least, the presence of cars in races. It is about asking your sports director for a can and driving a few meters or even hectometers to take advantage of the vehicle’s traction. Sometimes the stewards jury turns a blind eye, but not this time for Balsamo, disqualified, like a certain Vincenzo Niballi in the 2015 Vuelta a España. “Too bad. In the race it happens that we lack lucidity but that is the rule»recognized the champion of the day.

In just six months, the women’s peloton has already tasted all the flavors of Paris-Roubaix. Rain, mud, sun, dust, popular fervor… This Saturday, 98 of the 142 starters arrived on time. And when you get the same smile.

Also read: Women’s peloton ‘can’t wait’ to taste ‘hell of the north’ again

“On the cobbled sections, we just want everyone to raise their hands to applaud us. It’s a party, it’s a party…rejoices Marie Le Net (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine), 28me Saturday. We still put on a great show, we can be proud of ourselves. » In just two editions, the Paris-Roubaix is ​​already like for the boys that mixture of suffering, attraction and relief once past the gates of the velodrome. In short, a classic.

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