Paris-Roubaix Femmes 2024: preview, contenders and prediction

Rouleur looks at the contenders for this weekend's Paris-Roubaix Femmes

It might only have been around for no more than two-and-a-half years, but Paris-Roubaix Femmes is already one of, if not, the highlights of the season. It’s more than delivered on the hype, intensified by being delayed a year and a half due to Covid, and has produced some of the most spectacular racing we’ve seen these past few seasons.

All three of the editions to date have been special in their own way. Nature obliged the historic occasion of the inaugural race in 2021 (held in October due to another Covid-enforced delay) as the heavens opened to render the famously treacherous cobblestones even trickier to navigate. Riders slipped, slid and crashed in the mud for what was the ultimate test of their resilience and technique, with Lizzie Deignan earning the honour of being crowned the first ever winner with an outrageous long-range attack 82.5km from the finish. 

The following year was similarly thrilling, but in a much more conventional manner. The race took place in its familiar slot of spring, the weather was sunny and the cobbles therefore dry and dusty, on which the favourites waged war, with Elisa Longo Borghini taking the win. Then, 2023 produced another spectacle memorable for completely different reasons, as the day’s break stunned the favourites by making it all the way to the finish, from which Alison Jackson was the unlikely and very popular victor. 

Taking place on Saturday (April 6), the day before the men’s race, compared to the other major races on the calendar Paris-Roubaix Femmes benefits from not overlapping with the men’s race, enjoying instead a whole day in which it is the focus of the cycling world. It’s already one of the most sought-after prizes in the peloton — at least among those who dare take on the cobbles.


At 148.5km, up from 145.4km last year, this will be the longest edition yet of Paris-Roubaix Femmes. 29.2km of those (approximately 20% of the whole race) are spent of the race’s 17 cobbled sectors, the first, Hornaing à Wandignies, coming 66km into the race — although as Lizzie Deignan proved in 2021, when she made her race-winning move before a wheel had even touched a cobblestone, the riders won’t necessarily wait until that to start attacking.

Hornaing à Wandignies is one of three sectors in the first phase of pavé that are ranked four stars for difficulty, along with Tilloy à Sars-et-Rosières and Auchy-lez-Orchies à Bersée, the latter of which Lotte Kopecky attacked on in 2022 to force an early selection. Then immediately following that is the famous five-star Mons-en-Pévèle, one of the iconic roads of the Paris-Roubaix, and hard enough to shake the race up completely despite there still being almost 50km and 11 sectors still to complete after it. 

Paris-Roubaix Femmes route sourced from website 

The next six sectors aren’t quite so hard, although Elisa Longo Borghini did use the modest Templeuve to slip clear and build a gap in what turned out to be the race winning move in 2022. Then, 20km from the finish comes Camphin-en-Pévèle, where Marianne Vos set off in her futile pursuit of Lizzie Deignan in 2021, and the fearsome Carrefour de l’Arbre, the second and final five-star sector of the race.

After that remains just 17km and three more modest sectors before the riders arrive at the final iconic sight of Paris-Roubaix, the Roubaix velodrome. Whether the winner arrives here alone to bask in the glory of winning, or, as in 2023, in a small group needing to call upon their final reserves of energy for a sprint finish, the atmosphere here is always electric and produces some of the most memorable sights of the season. 


Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx-Protime)

Having initially picked up where she left off last year, winning Strade Bianche with a familiarly dominant ride, Lotte Kopecky’s spring campaign is now in danger of unravelling. Just as SD Worx-Protime has lost their aura of invincibility, so too has Kopecky. First being exposed and worked over by her rivals to finish fourth at Dwars door Vlaanderen, then dramatically at last Sunday’s Tour of Flanders, where she missed the selection formed on the Koppenberg and spent the rest of the race on the back foot. 

Her troubles on the Kopperberg, where she had to dismount and walk up, were especially shocking given how assured she normally looks over the cobbles, as evidenced by her last two rides at Paris-Roubaix, where on both occasions she was best of the rest: in 2022, the first rider behind solo victor Borghini, and last year the highest-placed finisher not to have been in the day’s original break. All this suggests she was born to win Paris-Roubaix, and she certainly has the talent — whether or not she has the form is the question. 

Lotte Kopecky during the 2023 edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes (Image by James Startt)

Marianne Vos (Visma-Lease a Bike) 

She might already have attained just about every win and honour there is in on offer in women’s cycling, but Marianne Vos is still finding new frontiers to conquer, and this spring added Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Dwars door Vlaanderen to her incomparable palmarès. You sense, though, that there’s only one more race she really wants to win in order to be able to retire content, and that’s the race taking place this weekend: Paris-Roubaix. 

A tactical mishap cost her in 2021 when she would have won were Lizzie Deignan’s early attack neutralised, and misfortune struck the following year when Covid forced her out, but she’s tamed the race’s unique cobblestones in an authoritative manner that few, if any, in the peloton have managed. Given her flying form exemplified by those aforementioned wins, and the absence of the climbs that were her undoing at the Tour of Flanders and Strade Bianche, this could be her date with destiny.

Pfeiffer Georgi (Team DSM-Firmenich PostNL)

One rider with the rare distinction of starting and finishing all three editions is Pfeiffer Georgi, something that testifies to her skill on the cobblestones. She’s generally spent those races in and around the front of the race, too, finishing ninth in 2022 in a small group next to finish after the main group of favourites, and then upgrading to eighth in 2023, beaten only by Kopecky in the group behind the surprisingly successful early break. Aged 23, she’s still young and improving all the time, and has enjoyed a strong spring so far with fifth place at Trofeo Alfredo Binda, while she has also been towards the front on the major bergs of the Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. We can expect her to be right up towards the front at Paris-Roubaix. 

Pfeiffer Georgi at the start of Tour of Flanders 2024 (Eloise Mavian/

Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx-Protime)

Lorena Wiebes is enjoying a stellar spring, winning four Classics in total (among them, Gent-Wevelgem, Ronde van Drenthe and Scheldeprijs), and only finishing outside of the top two on three occasions, and never lower than eleventh. Her success in such a variety of races, and not just ones finishing in sprint finishes, testifies to how much of an all-rounder she is these days; that said, Paris-Roubaix is still a race she has yet to master, finishing a distant 49th and 45th since abandoning the first edition. But her return to the race indicates she’s eager to tame the cobbles here and could add an extra dangerous dimension to SD Worx-Protime’s armoury with the threat of her lethal finishing sprint. 

Elisa Chabbey (Canyon//SRAM)

Paris-Roubaix is a unique race that cannot even really be compared to the other cobbled Classics, given the different nature of the parcours, so past performances here can be a better indicator of who the favourites are than current form. With that in mind, Canyon//SRAM’s leader Elise Chabbey ought to be considered a leading contender despite only featuring in the top ten of a race once the season (Strade Bianche, where she was eighth). She shone at the 2022 Paris-Roubaix, overcoming a crash during the race to finish in fourth place, and was again present in the group of favourites last year, even if a slow sprint did see her finish down in 16th. The Swiss rider loves a long-range attack and would be a nightmare to bring back if she pulled off a move akin to her 80km attack at the Glasgow World Championships last year.

Elise Chabbey during Trofeo Alfredo Binda 2024 (Image by Getty)

Other contenders

Paris-Roubaix is a very demanding race, fraught with perils: crashes are likely and could spell the end of your spring. Because of this, many riders opt to skip it entirely, and this year, it’s the case that many of the most in-form riders will be missing, including the whole Tour of Flanders podium of Elisa Longo Borghini, Kasia Niewiadoma and Shirin van Anrooij.

Lidl-Trek’s line-up will be interesting given the absence of star riders Borghini and Van Anrooij. Elisa Balsamo won’t have any climbs to worry about but has struggled on the cobbles here before, never finishing higher than 57th. By contrast, Lucinda Brand and Ellen van Dijk are specialists on this terrain, finishing third and seventh respectively in 2022; their issue is instead form.

Demi Vollering is another top star set to be missing and in her place, SD Worx-Protime will have seasoned Paris-Roubaix riders Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, Christine Majerus, and Femke Markus, who was in such a great position to win last year before crashing in the velodrome.

Christine Majerus during the 2024 Tour of Flanders (Image by Eloise Mavian/

This is the kind of race in which big, powerful sprinters can stay in contention if they can handle the cobblestones without having to worry about hauling themselves up any climbs. Two of the fastest sprinters in the world are Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ) and Charlotte Kool (Team DSM-Firmenich PostNL) and both are set to line up off the back of many high finishes this spring. Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) is another quick finisher few would fancy their chances against in a sprint finish, who also has an affinity for the cobbles.

By contrast, Grace Brown (FDJ-Suez) will rely upon attacking rather than sprinting if she is to win, and despite a quiet spring, can still cause huge problems if allowed to go clear. In-form riders such as Puck Pieterse (Fenix-Deceuninck), Silvia Persico (UAE Team ADQ) and Letizia Paternoster (Liv Alula Jayco) would be among the favourites were they to ride, but none have confirmed as yet. But one rider who will be present is Alison Jackson (EF Education-Cannondale), sure to relish every moment as the race’s defending champion, even if lightning is unlikely to strike twice.


If ever there was a rider to rise to the occasion, it’s Marianne Vos, and Paris-Roubaix is the race she has wanted to win since its inception in 2021. Various factors might have prevented her from doing so up until now, but this year, the stars are aligning, and, far from age beginning to take its toll, she has looked as good as ever this spring. If she can overcome her Visma-Lease a Bike’s likely numerical disadvantage to Lidl-Trek and SD Worx-Protime, this will be her race. 

*Cover image of Alison Jackson by Alex Whitehead/

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