Lizzie Deignan makes history with victory in first ever women’s Paris-Roubaix

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

British cyclist Lizzie Deignan was left in tears as she took an epic victory in the first ever running of a women’s Paris-Roubaix.

The 32-year-old hailed a day that is “part of history” as she conquered one of the sport’s most notoriously challenging one-day events to beat Dutch star Marianna Vos by 77 seconds.

Deignan launched her move with a little over 80km to go, on the first of the 17 cobbled sections on the 116km route between Denain and the famous Roubaix velodrome.

With the ‘unlucky’ number 13 on her back, the 2015 world champion gradually built a lead, pulling a minute clear within 15km of going clear.

That lead nudged towards two minutes as they hit the Auchy-lez-Orchies sector of cobbles a little more than 50km from the finish.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

The Trek-Segafredo rider’s rear wheel was skidding in the mud as she battled to stay upright - a fight others behind, including newly-crowned world champion Elisa Balsamo, would lose.

Vos, a three-time winner of the rainbow jersey, launched an attack from the chasing group with 19km to go - the Jumbo-Visma rider’s sudden acceleration on the cobbles causing a crash from which only she and Deignan’s team-mate Elisa Longo Borghini emerged.

Vos cut the gap down to 75 seconds on the last of the major cobbled sections, but could make no further inroads in the final 10km as Deignan soloed to victory.

The Brit began her celebrations early as she rounded the velodrome before collapsing in tears at the finish.

She said afterwards: “I just feel so incredibly proud.

“Women’s cycling is at a turning point and today is part of history. I’m proud to be part of a team that also makes history, and I’m so grateful to everybody behind the scenes.

“Every fan watching this is also part of that history because they’re proving there’s an appetite for women’s cycling and that the athletes here can do one of the hardest races in the world. I’m so proud I can say I was the first winner.”

Though one of the pre-race favourites, Deignan revealed after she was not the designated team leader - surprising herself with how she rode on the day.

“It was really not the plan,” she added. “I needed to be at the front in the first cobbled section to protect my leaders, today I was kind of the third rider. I looked behind and saw there was a gap, and thought, ‘well, at least if I’m in front they have to chase me, so I just kept going’.”

Additional reporting by PA.

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