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Longo Borghini: You had to embrace the chaos in Paris-Roubaix Femmes

Elisa Longo Borghini celebrates her third place and Lizzie Deignan's victory in Paris-Roubaix
Elisa Longo Borghini celebrates her third place and Lizzie Deignan's victory in Paris-Roubaix (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Trek-Segafredo enjoyed a day of days on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix Femmes on Saturday, taking home both first and third place as Lizzie Deignan soloed to a memorable win while Elisa Longo Borghini grabbed third place 1:47 later.

The Italian, who was among the favourites for glory at the race, having won on the rough roads of the Tour of Flanders and Strade Bianche in the past, admitted afterwards that she loved the chaos of the race and was ready to do it all again.

"I would do that now again," the Italian champion said in the post-race press conference. "It's been a nice race, an epic race. Despite the crashes and the chaos, it's been a nice race, but in the end, Paris-Roubaix is chaos and crashes. It's totally chaotic. You just have to embrace the chaos and just know that you will face the unknown, which is great. I love it."

Longo Borghini said this despite having fallen several times during a race that saw countless crashes as the peloton of 132 fought on the 17 often wet and muddy cobbled sectors.

She said that the sectors were totally different to what she and her team had experienced in pre-race recons, and not just because of the conditions.

"We did some recons earlier this year. We were kind of prepared but of course, when you go onto the cobbles with a full peloton it's different because normally you do that with your teammates and they're all really kind and give you space," she said. "But it's really a big fight with all the other riders and you always try to be with your squad together.

"Then, today, the cobbles were really slippery, and I think I crashed three or four times. I always made it back and we were told not to give up every time we had something because Paris-Roubaix is like this. You always had the chance to get back and do a good result, and I did."

Longo Borghini, who was the first to respond to Marianne Vos' (Jumbo-Visma) attack on the muddy Camphin-en-Pévèle 18 kilometres from the line, couldn't quite make it across to the Dutch woman in the chase behind Deignan, but rode alone to the line and held off Lisa Brennauer (Ceratizit-WNT) for third place on the velodrome.

Rather than spend much time talking up her own ride on the brutal 116.4-kilometre course, though, Longo Borghini instead chose to pay tribute to her teammate Deignan, who had raced alone to victory for 82 kilometres.

"It was an incredible podium today and there was nobody who deserved to be on the top step more," she said. "Lizzie made history and we made history. It's strange and hard to acknowledge this but it's just an amazing feeling. Like I said, there's no better person to be on the top step today.

"Today I think the real star is Lizzie and I think she deserves all the attention because she did something incredible.

"Audrey Cordon-Ragot told me to stay on Vos' wheel, so I actually tried, but of course, when Vos went, I felt like a seal following her because in the corners she's just really strong and I slipped away a couple of times and she went."

Deignan herself has acknowledged that her move off the front was certainly not part of Trek-Segafredo's plan for the race, instead noting that Longo Borghini and Ellen van Dijk were the team's leaders.

Longo Borghini shed more light on the circumstances of Deignan's race-winning jump, which came so early that it was only captured on fan's phone recordings, rather than the TV coverage which began midway through the race.

"We didn't really lead her out because we were stuck after a crash, and we were actually chasing, but if you want to write that we led her out we'd be really happy," Longo Borghini joked. "All of a sudden, we saw the Lizzie was at the front and we thought that was good. We were just trying to stay up front and slow the peloton down because it wasn't a good chasing chain.

"I was lucky to have my teammates around and we made it back in the second sector. Lizzie was already gone, and she said that on the radio. I think she got there and by instinct, she got away.

"Instinct is what drives Lizzie, and we know that and today she had a sparkle in her eyes. I really felt like she'd win the race. She had a nap before the race and I said, 'that's form' and she said 'oh, really?'. Yeah…"

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Daniel Ostanek

Daniel Ostanek has been a staff writer at Cyclingnews since August 2019, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later part-time production editor. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content on Cyclingnews and takes on live race text coverage throughout the season.

Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Tro-Bro Léon, Strade Bianche, and the Vuelta a España.