The Hell of the North awaited the women’s peloton this afternoon as they took on Paris-Roubaix, tackling 145 kilometres of challenging terrain which included 17 bone shaking sectors of cobbles. Team DSM arrived arrived at the start filled with confidence after a good classics campaign so far, and looked to leave their mark on the race.
With the peloton rolling out of Denain it was a fast and attacking start, with the team covering the moves well before Daniek Hengeveld made it into a dangerous 18 rider break which built up a maximum lead of five minutes and 45 seconds before they hit the first sector of cobbles with 85 kilometres to go. Riding with confidence, Hengeveld came to the front of the break on the next sector and upped the pace, with no one initially willing to follow her. Not looking back, she continued to stamp on the pedals and heading into the last 50 kilometres she held onto a three minute and 45 second gap over the peloton, from where the attacks started. The rest of the original breakaway kept working well together though and eventually made contact with Hengeveld at 45 kilometres to go, while in the meantime Pfeiffer Georgi and Franziska Koch had made it into an elite chasing group from the peloton.
While Georgi and Koch’s group was eating into the gap held by Hengeveld’s breakaway, a big crash saw all but one of that chase group make it through on one of the many cobbled sections. Georgi and Koch managed to remount and fought their way back in various groups; ultimately rejoining together at around 20 kilometres to go. However, it severely stunted the chase and swung the balance back in the favour of the breakaway, which by this point had then split with Hengeveld fighting hard to hold on.
Approaching the last section of cobbles Hengeveld, who was dropped as the breakaway split once more, did one last big pull with Georgi in tow, reducing the gap down to around ten seconds from 40. Yet, things then once again slowed and a few attacks disrupted the chase, while the breakaway began working together well again. Ultimately, six riders from the original break would fight it out for the win in the velodrome, while Georgi fought all the way to the line and produced a very strong sprint from the chasing bunch to take an eighth place finish in Roubaix.