After her surprise win in the Amstel Gold Race the previous weekend, Marta Cavalli (FDJ-Nouvelle Aquitaine-Futuroscope) was one of the riders to watch in the second edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes. The 24-year-old Italian lived up to this promise and finished in fifth place, but her race was not without difficulties.
“I had one crash, and later, I had a puncture. But I was lucky to be able to come back to the first bunch, and I pushed hard in order to honour and celebrate this race,” Cavalli told Cyclingnews at the finish.
Very early in the race, she was among one of the riders that went down in a crash on the opening circuit around Denain, and to make matters worse, this crash destroyed the right shifter on her handlebars.
“I have to thank my mechanic because he changed the shifter during the race. That cannot have been a nice and easy job. But they could give me back the race bike, that is always better than the spare one. And I think I found the best way to say thanks to everybody,” Cavalli said.
Fifty-five kilometres from the finish, the Italian suffered a puncture, and it took her quite a while to get back to the front group. Despite having to chase for a long time, Cavalli never gave up.
“I know that in this race, the scenario can change in each moment,” she explained. “Then it is just about believing in yourself pushing all the way. If you are strong and believe in yourself, you can always be in the front.”
It took Cavalli 24 kilometres to get back to the first peloton, and by that point, Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) had gone away on her race-winning solo. The group was thinned out more and more on the last pavé sectors, and as Maëlle Grossetête punctured on sector 7 and Grace Brown had to let go after trying hard to close the gap to Longo Borghini, Cavalli was left without any teammates in the final.
In this situation, she chose to save herself for the sprint for second place instead of contributing to the chase behind Longo Borghini. Out of a group of seven riders, Cavalli was fourth in the sprint, finishing fifth, an improvement of four places over her 2021 ninth-place finish.
“When I came back, I was told on the radio that there is one solo rider in front. In the last kilometres, I was alone in the group, and there were two Trek girls and two from SD Worx, so I chose to save some energy to sprint for a result,” Cavalli concluded.
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Lukas Knöfler started working in cycling communications in 2013 and has seen the inside of the scene from many angles. Having worked as press officer for teams and races and written for several online and print publications, he has been Cyclingnews’ Women’s WorldTour correspondent since 2018.