Briton Lizzie Deignan won a sensational breakaway during the first edition of the Paris-Roubaix for women.
The Trek-Segafredo rider moved away from the peloton more than 80 km from the finish, before the rain affected the course.
The legendary race on the brutal ‘cobblestone’ cobblestones returned this weekend after the coronavirus pandemic postponed it to 2020.
“I feel incredibly proud – women’s cycling is at a turning point and is now part of history,” said Deignan.
“I’m also proud to be part of a team that makes history, and even the fans watching at home are making history to show that there is an appetite for women’s cycling – and that these athletes can to do one of the toughest races in the world. “
Deignan, who becomes the first Briton to win Paris-Roubaix, cleared just over half of the 116km race before the riders reached the ruthless cobblestone sections that permeate the race known as ” the hell of the north ”.
The 32-year-old took the cobbled corners carefully to stay on the bike and protect a two-minute-30-second lead.
She then also revealed after the race that she was not the rider her team had originally selected for victory.
“[Winning] It really wasn’t the plan, “she said.” I just needed to be up front on the first section of cobbles to protect the leaders – today I was third.
“I looked behind the first cobblestones and there was no one behind me so I thought they had to chase me so I just continued.”
Superb handling of the bike saved Deignan’s charge
The Dutch Marianne Vos of Jumbo-Visma broke away from a group of 19 riders chasing Deignan and halved her lead at 10 km from the finish.
However, Deignan held the bike brilliantly as its rear wheel veered left and then right through the mud on the treacherous sector of Caphin-en-Pevele.
Deignan, who won the World Road Championships, the Tour of Flanders and the Women’s One-Day Tour de France, beat the sport’s top runners to lift the famous cobblestone trophy.
She crossed the finish line in the soggy outdoor velodrome in Roubaix ahead of Vos in second and her teammate Elisa Longo Borghini from Italy third, to claim a cash prize of £ 1,300.
Deignan will compete in the Women’s Tour of Britain from Monday, while the men will compete in a 259km Paris-Roubaix on Sunday for a first prize of £ 26,000.
The first men’s race was held in 1896.
1. Lizzie Deignan (GB / Trek-Segafredo) 2 hours 56 minutes 7 seconds
2. Marianne Vos (Ned / Jumbo-Visma) + 1min 17secs
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita / Trek-Segafredo) + 1min 51secs
4. Lisa Brennauer (Ger / Ceratizit Pro Cycling) + 2min 10secs
5. Marta Bastianllei (Ita / Ale BTC Ljubljana) At the same time
6. Emma Norsgaard (Den / Movistar)
7. Franziska Koch (German / DSM)
8. Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Fra / Trek Segafredo)
9. Marta Cavalli (Furturoscope Ita / FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine)
10. Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Ned / SD Worx) “