Gallery: The grit and glory of Paris-Roubaix Femmes

by Iain Treloar

photography by The Grubers, Kramon, Getty Images

Some races come with their own gravity. Paris-Roubaix Femmes – the first ever women’s edition of one of cycling’s most beloved races – was one of those. As it approached in the calendar, the entire world of cycling seemed to orbit around it.

In the end, after all that build-up, the result itself didn’t really matter as much as the fact that there was a race to have a result. But it sure helped that it was a scintillating one.

Off the front for most of the race was Lizzie Deignan – a rider who’s had some ups and downs over her career, but in the later stages of her career has become symbolic of the growth that women’s cycling has taken. She stepped away from the sport, became a mother, was supported by her employer through the process, returned, and is back at cycling’s pinnacle.

In second position – and, for a tantalising stretch, threatening to reel Deignan back in – was Marianne Vos, a rider that needs no introduction and one of cycling’s most gracious figureheads.

Paris-Roubaix is never just one story. The 2021 Paris-Roubaix Femmes was a compendium of 129 of them, one for each rider’s journey to the Roubaix velodrome, or into a team car, or into the back of an ambulance. Happy stories and sad stories. Dreams realised and dreams dashed. Life in microcosm.

Through the lenses of our photographers, here are some of those stories.

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