The two most exciting one-day races of the year are almost here, the 2023 ‘Hell of the North’ women’s & men’s races held this weekend.
Saturday night delivers the Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift and it will be broadcast on SBS VICELAND from 11:15pm (AEST). The men’s race is on Sunday night and telecast from 7pm (AEST) on April 9 via SBS On Demand.
Here we take a look back to highlights of last year’s men’s and women’s ‘Hell of the North’.
Van Baarle wins For Ineos
Dylan van Baarle put in the performance of his career to win the 2022 Paris-Roubaix for the INEOS Grenadiers.
The Dutchman made his winning move with 19 kilometres to go, driving clear of his fellow attackers and opening out a gap. That meant he was able to savour the atmosphere inside the famous Roubaix Velodrome – finishing solo by 1 minute 47 seconds.
A show of team strength – massively aided by Aussie rider Cam Wurf – helped ensure the Grenadiers constantly had numbers towards the front of the race. That early pressure helped contribute to victory in what was the fasted ever edition of Roubaix.
“It’s unbelievable. I couldn’t believe it when I went on to the velodrome,” said Van Baarle after his historic win.
“I looked at the other side to see if there were some other guys but I was completely alone,” he continued.
“When the DS car came next to me with Servais (Knaven) then I really started believing in it. It’s been crazy.”
Long before the cobbles the team were on the front, ensuring a number of pre-race favourites and their teams were put under pressure. Cam Wurf, Luke Rowe and Magnus Sheffield got through a lot of work and the team. Michal Kwiatkowski and Filippo Ganna were able to join a lead group after the famed Arenberg sector, giving their all for the cause.
“To be second in Flanders and winning Roubaix – I’m lost for words,” he continued.
“We were super focussed from the gun. And that’s what we wanted – we didn’t want to chase. We wanted to be on the front foot and that’s what we did. From that moment I knew that we would have a good chance because we spent less energy than everyone else. We were a bit unlucky – I had a puncture, Pippo had a puncture, I think everyone had something. We just kept calm and this result is amazing.
“We wanted to make the race hard before the second feed zone, and that’s what we did,” he continued.
“After that Kwiato said I was super strong and he wanted to ride for me. It gave me so much confidence and I can’t thank the team enough for today. It’s been a great spring classic season so far. We’re going to enjoy this.
Van Baarle said the team had worked hard over the past few months.
“In the last couple of years we had some bad luck but now everything is just going in the right direction,” he said.
“The whole team is lifting off that and it’s been amazing,” he concluded.
Elisa Longo Borghini Solos To Win 2022 Paris-Roubaix Femmes
Trek-Segafredo’s Elisa Longo Borghini made a long range attack to win the second edition of the women’s Paris Roubaix on Saturday.
The Italian champion built a half-minute lead and held it for 35 kilometers. Entering the Roubaix velodrome alone, the Italian champion gave Trek-Segafredo their second straight Hell of the North victory after Lizzie Deignan’s 2021 win.
“If you go, you have to believe from the beginning,” she said after the iconic race. “I was just full gas,”
“It’s unbelievable, you have many thoughts going around,” explained Elisa when asked what she was feeling at that moment. “You are in hell and then all of a sudden in paradise riding into a velodrome with a big history of cycling. I was thinking of my family, my boyfriend, and my teammates … this is who I ride for.”
“It’s been a very tough spring for me,” continued the Italian champion who has suffered sinusitis for the past month.
“I couldn’t perform the way I wanted,” she continued. “I knew I was worth more, which was frustrating. It was a hard time and I need to thank first of all my family and my boyfriend Jacopo (Mosca) because they are all the time keeping my morale up, and secondly, my team Trek-Segafredo because they still had faith in me. They brought me to this race even though I said I was not ready, but they kept saying, ‘You are more than ready, and we know you are capable of doing this.’ I have to say they were right.”
“With sinusitis, you can’t really breathe, and in cycling breathing is everything. So I had to take a step back to take two forward. So I skipped Amstel Gold and Brabantse Pijl and was able to get rid of the infection with antibiotics. And in the end, if I feel good, I win.”