Lizzie Deignan solos to victory at the inaugural Hell of the North and raises the famed cobble trophy at the velodrome in Roubaix
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There were 129 women who made history as they toed the start line for the first-ever Paris-Roubaix Femmes on October 2. Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) secured an astonishing 82km solo victory and went down in history as the first woman to win the Hell of the North.
The race started in Denain under damp weather conditions but the celebratory vibes were plentiful as riders prepared for the start, many surrounded by cameras and media documenting the first moments of the historical day.
The first half of the race was not shown live on television when Deignan made her winning attack just ahead of the first cobbled sector, Hornaing à Wandignies, at 30km into the race.
Deignan would gain a maximum of 2:40 on the shattered peloton behind before a desperate chase from Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), who eventually finished second.
The women raced 29.2km of pavé spread across 17 cobblestone sectors, which included two five-star sectors - Mons-en-Pévèle at 67km mark and Carrefour de l'Arbre at the 98.5km mark - before the famed velodrome-finish in Roubaix.
Rain fell in the days prior to the race and then on-and-off showers during the day of the event making the cobble sectors muddy and slippery. Crashes ended the hopes of many of the competitors including Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), who sustained fractures to her pelvis and shoulder, and Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo), who had a concussion. Even new World Champion Elisa Balsamo (Valcar Travel & Service) slipped on the muddy cobbles and struggled to re-gain traction in the race.
For all 129 women who started, and for those who finished, it was a day written into the history books of cycling.
Click or swipe through our gallery of photos above to see the women's field making history as they race over the rain-soaked and muddy cobbles at first-ever Paris-Roubaix Femmes. You can also find a gallery filled with action from out on the road in our race report.
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.