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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

How road warrior Lizzie Deignan was crowned queen of the classics

In the glorious aftermath, Deignan said she had raced “with the power of generations of women who were denied the opportunity to battle for this monument” and how she felt the “strength of the history of women’s cycling behind me”. She would go on to say that she hoped her three-year-old daughter Orla would “never face the same barriers” those before her endured.

On the day of Deignan’s historic victory, social media fizzed and crackled with chatter about the race. It was unprecedented.

“I could feel the excitement of not only the riders, but also during the recon ride we had more journalists than ever before with us for this kind of race,” Anna van der Breggen, the former world champion and multiple classics winner who was in the SD Worx team car having recently retired from racing, told Telegraph Sport. “For everybody it was exciting.

“Paris-Roubaix was a new race in women’s cycling and came with high risks. The men knew what to expect, but I was afraid some of the girls did not know what to expect and there may be a big disaster.”

Van der Breggen was not wrong, there were indeed risks and many crashes, borne out by the long injury list including a fractured pubic bone for Annemiek van Vleuten. Of the 129 riders who set off from Denain for the 116.4km race to Roubaix, 24 failed to finish – an attritional rate of 18.6 per cent – while only 61 completed it within the time limit (47.28 per cent).

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