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The inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes takes place on Saturday, October 2 between Denain and Roubaix. Deferred from last year, the race finally makes its debut for the professional women’s peloton. 

The women’s race will not run the full 258km and 30 sectors (55km) of cobbled sections of the men’s race. They will race 116km over 17 sectors (29.2km) of the famous pavés, with the women’s route being identical to the men’s after 31km, at Hornaing, and then through the final 85km into the Roubaix Velodrome.

Part of the route includes two five-star sectors, however, the most famed of all the cobblestones sectors – Trouée d’Arenberg – will not be included in the first edition of the Paris-Roubaix Femmes. Race director, Franck Perque of Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) explains why.

“Although Denain, the start town is close to the Trouée d’Arenberg, it wouldn’t have been feasible to start the race by going straight into this cobbled section. In the men’s race, for instance by the time they reach Arenberg they will have done 10 sections and little groups will have formed, so that allows the race to be stretched out a little,” Perque said.

“But in the women’s race, we can’t just launch the whole of the women’s peloton onto the Trouée d’Arenberg as a first cobbled section. It’s true that the Trouée is an iconic section, but we still also have other famous sections like Mons-en-Pévèle and Carrefour de L’Arbre, which will make the course challenging already.

Following the final reconnaissance of the Paris-Roubaix Femmes this week, Perque’s comments on the route seemed to have a common theme. There is much anticipation and enthusiasm ahead of the first edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes. 

He explained some of the important factors that went into creating the women’s 116km route.

“The Paris-Roubaix Femmes has been much anticipated by the athletes, and we are really enthusiastic about staging the race this year. Of course, we were meant to hold it in 2020, but for reasons that we all know, we’ve had to wait a little longer. 

“Women’s cycle racing has become increasingly professional, with races hotly contested, in recent years. So staging a Paris-Roubaix Femmes, as well as the Tour de France Femmes with Zwift in 2022 is something that we had wanted to put in place. We are pleased to be able to make this a reality.

“We have designed is a Paris-Roubaix route not just in name only, but something with numerous cobbled sections that is very physically demanding. One talks of suffering, where crashes are a possibility – which is part of the race. It’s a very tough course.

“Although Denain, the start town is close to the Trouée d’Arenberg, it wouldn’t have been feasible to start the race by going straight into this cobbled section. In the men’s race, for instance by the time they reach Arenberg they will have done 10 sections and little groups will have formed, so that allows the race to be stretched out a little. But in the women’s race, we can’t just launch the whole of the women’s peloton onto the Trouée d’Arenberg as a first cobbled section. It’s true that the Trouée is an iconic section, but we still also have other famous sections like Mons-en-Pévèle and Carrefour de L’Arbre, which will make the course challenging already. 

“At Hornaing, we have three sections one after the other, and folks will suffer a little on the approach to the feed station at Beuvry-La-Forêt. Then they attack the section as Beuvry, which is also demanding and then the section of the Abattoir, Le Chemin des Abattoirs at Orchies and that’s going to be very difficult. I think that the race is going to split up quite rapidly. Mons-en-Pévèle will be a challenge, and Cysoing-Bourghelles will be really demanding before they tackle Carrefour de L’Arbre. I think there is enough in this course to make it extremely tough for the riders. 

“As this is the first edition of the Paris-Roubaix Femmes we will see how the elite women riders get on and we can see how we develop the route in the future. 

“Obviously, the weather will play a role in how the race unfolds, and we will only have a better idea of that the day before the race. Given that this is the inaugural year, I can’t say for certain which rider suits this course, but my impression is that it would suit a good time triallist. 

“That’s because that when you enter the cobbled sections you have to be riding very hard, but not in the red. You’re not at your absolute maximum, but are riding at a similar effort to when doing a time trial. The current World Time Trial Champion, Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo) has the ideal profile. Then there are riders like Lisa Brennauer (Team Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling), Annemiek van Vleuten (Team Movistar), and don’t forget Lotte Kopecky (Liv Racing). If the cobbles get greasy or muddy then a rider with good bike handling skills – someone like Marianne Vos (Team Jumbo-Visma), who is skilful on slippery terrain like in cyclo-cross, could be well suited to these conditions. Of course, we will find out on Saturday which rider is best suited to this course on Saturday.” 

The Pavé

SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
AUTHOR: Maria David
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