1 month ago by Oskar Scarsbrook

A Saturday in Hell

Movement
Human Powered Health conquers Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift

They call Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift the ‘Queen of the classics’, and it’s easy to see why. A race quite unlike any other in the sport, the second edition of this fabled monument weaved a new chapter into the fabric of a race revered for its difficulty.

The fortunes of Human Powered Health were as unpredictable as the cobblestones themselves. As the team’s top finisher, Lily Williams explained afterwards, sometimes the pavé gods bite back.

“Paris-Roubaix was the hardest flat race I’ve ever done and it’s the epitome of a bike race because it’s about 50% skill and fitness and 50% luck and equipment and we were super dialled today but we just had a bit of bad luck.”

Keeping mental resolve in these periods is vital.

There’s going to be a time when it goes your way and the majority of the time it doesn’t go your way and it’s just part of the sport,” Williams said of her battle back to the head of a chasing group following mid-race adversity.

The real beauty of Paris-Roubaix can be found in its iconic finish at the Vélodrome André-Pétrieux. Lined with fans, three deep at times, a cauldron effect is created with the cheers of the boisterous crowd carrying the Hell of the North’s gladiatorial finishers across the line.

“Racing with crowds again and having people being there and cheering was something that I really missed and had forgotten it is something that is so exciting and motivating,” Williams ended.

The day’s racing written across dusty faces, cracked lips and the one thousand-yard stares of its finishers, only they truly know what it takes to carry rider and machine across the gruelling 17 sectors of pavé. A bond shared, tales from every kilometer and a new generation of cyclists inspired to conquer any challenge on two wheels. 

Relive the action and bask in the atmosphere of this iconic race with our gallery of images from a day characterized by cobbles, dust and fierce racing.

With the cobbled classics behind them, the team resumes racing at the Ardennes classics at Flèche Wallone on April 20 before ‘La Doyenne’ (The Old Lady), Liège–Bastogne–Liège, the oldest of the monuments on April 25.