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Paris-Roubaix Recon - Drops Le Col

April 2021 was set to mark the first edition of a women’s Paris-Roubaix. Amid a whirlwind of interest in the women’s peloton and better than ever coverage, teams were preparing to conquer the Queen of the Classics. However, set against a backdrop of rising coronavirus case numbers in continental Europe, the inaugural women’s Sunday in Hell was not to be. The velodrome sat silent, and riders instead circled October the 2nd in their calendars. In the build up to the original date of Paris-Roubaix, Drops-Le Col set out on a recon of the course - to sample these roads, and taste the magic, mayhem and madness of one of cycling’s longest running races. Capturing what this race means in their words and pictures from the day, we wanted to show you what it means for Roubaix to open its gates to the Women’s peloton.

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“It feels like a dream come true to be able to compete in a race like Paris-Roubaix. It’s still only sinking in that I was on the Roubaix cobbles and in the velodrome. It is really enjoyable to race the races you used to watch on TV that inspire you as a young cyclist."

TATA MARTINS - DROPS LE COL RIDER

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TATA MARTINS
DROPS LE COL TEAM RIDER

“Every edition of Paris-Roubaix is a special one and it’s so hard to have a favourite. Every year is inspirational and always gives me goosebumps. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would have the opportunity to compete in this iconic race.

Paris Roubaix Femmes is a big step forward for the gender equality of cycling. Four years ago I never thought we were going to have a women’s edition of the race. It’s sad not to have spectators, especially in Belgium where people love cycling. I hope it’s just a matter of time before we have people cheering for us again, we just need to be patient.

For Roubaix, there are modifications to the tyres, the pressure, as well as the wheels themselves. It was a great experience on the recon to take away tips on wheel pressure, how to be fluid on the cobbles, as well as understanding the Roubaix cobbles. You have to try not to lose speed and be as smooth as possible on the bike while trying not to hold too tight or tense on to the handlebar. Feel the cobbles as they are and enjoy!

To prepare for the race we have been studying the course, the cobbles, and the details. We’ve also been watching videos of previous editions to see how the men have handled it.”

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SARA PENTON
DROPS LE COL TEAM RIDER

“It is huge that we finally can ride the iconic Paris-Roubaix. It’s a step forward for women’s cycling for sure! The French cobbles are very different to any other cobbles I’ve ridden. It felt really good riding it for real. My favourite memory of Paris-Roubaix was when Mathew Hayman won. It was so emotional for him and shows that hard work really does pay off! I didn’t know if I would ever get the opportunity to be part of this monumental race...you wish and you dream! Now we have to wish and dream until October.

This is a huge step for women’s cycling. It is an acknowledgement of our sport on the biggest stages. Spectators are a big part of racing but just to race this race will feel really special.

Taping your hands and choosing the right gloves have been a couple of modifications of kit for Paris-Roubaix. From the recon, I learnt that it is possible to ride ‘easy’ on the cobbles too, and also that tyre pressure can always be lower than you think. I would recommend to be as relaxed as possible on the bike and a good gear to keep momentum when riding on cobbles. To prepare for Paris-Roubaix, I’ve been really attentive riding cobbles, thinking of the best way to ride them and practicing how to handle them, how to hold your handlebars, gearing etc. I’m also trying to be in good shape for it.”

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TOM VARNEY
DROPS LE COL TEAM MANAGER

“For us as a team, to make it to the startline is huge. It’s a race we all romanticise - it’s an epic - it’s tough, it’s mythologised, and it’s mad. There’s no reason a race like Paris Roubaix would exist today if it hadn’t started over a hundred years ago. Nobody would do it. The riders would protest. It’s like asking Real Madrid to play on the school playground - but because generations of athletes have made history there, it’s absolutely the race many want to win.

As a women’s team - we’ve dealt with disparity in cycling - and to finally see such races open up is a massive marker for equality. It’s stepping over the threshold into a new era. It takes every inch of steely determination to race, man or woman. The fact that our team and our sponsors back us to give them every opportunity to show their true colours on the biggest stage is something I’m hugely proud of.”

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