'This shows the fire inside her’ - Pfeiffer Georgi has just got started at Paris-Roubaix

The British rider finished in third place this year, and it has only made her hungry for more

Standing trackside, with dust and mud being wiped off her face, Pfeiffer Georgi was looking up at the big screen that was showing a replay of the finish line shootout at Paris-Roubaix Femmes. She knew the win had gone to Lotte Kopecky, and that Elisa Balsamo had claimed second, but she was unsure if her late bike throw on the iconic velodrome’s concrete slopes had been enough to edge her past Marianne Vos.

As the footage slowed down, the result was clear: the British champion riding for DSM-Firmenich PostNL had sprinted to third place and to a spot on the podium, prompting a euphoric cheer and a wide smile that was still present more than an hour later. “It was a photo finish and I didn’t know if I was third or fourth, but to stand on the podium means everything for me,” the 23-year-old said. “When it came up on the screen I was so emotional. This is a dream race of mine to win, and some of these girls were my heroes growing up so to be in the front and standing on the podium with them at Paris-Roubaix is pretty crazy for me.”

Pfeiffer Georgi Paris-Roubaix

(Photo by Thomas Maheux/ASO)

Though world champion Kopecky may have come good on her favourite tag, it was both Georgi and Lidl-Trek’s Ellen van Dijk who were widely regarded as the riders of the day. In Georgi’s case, she animated the race repeatedly in the final two hours, and put in a monumental effort to bridge across to the leading group with 15km to go after she was dropped from the peloton following a small unfortunate coming together with her teammate Franziska Koch. “It was a fightback,” she said, “I can’t believe it. It was all about positioning today, and the girls put me at the front of every sector and that made the difference.

“I knew this race suited me and in the end it was a bit difficult because Ellen was riding to keep it together so there wasn’t a perfect moment to attack. I just focused on the sprint and I used to do a bit of track and so I harnessed that. I was trying not to get boxed in and I knew I had to go early. It was going to be a tough challenge to beat them in a sprint, but I just did a big lunge at the end. I felt my legs were going to get cramped up because I just wanted it so bad. It was so close on the line. I think I believed coming into this race that I belonged in this top group, and it’s nice to have the confirmation and reassurance that I am at this level.”

Watching together back home in Gloucestershire, England, was her family - father Peter and mother Louise joined by Pfeiffer’s brother, Etienne. “It feels magical,” Peter told Rouleur. “I grew up watching Roubaix, the kids did too, and Etienne rode the junior and U23 versions. Watching Pfeiffer get on the podium of one of the big Classics is huge, and you could really see the joy in her.

Pfeiffer Georgi Paris-Roubaix

(Photo by Zac Williams/SWPix)

“We went through so many emotions watching it. It was nerve-wracking and we thought her race was over when she got dropped, but she showed that fighting spirit and never gave up. That’s what we are most proud of and she was rewarded for that. She deserved it, too. She didn’t win, but she achieved as good as she could have done today. She was competing against Kopecky and Balsamo, and beat Vos. This wasn’t some kermesse. It was such a big ride from her and we’re so proud. She’s part of the history of this race now, and the way she sprinted around Vos shows the fire inside her that will one day win her one of these big races.”

Ever since ASO, the race organisers, announced in May 2020 that there would be a women’s edition of the Hell of the North, Georgi has been fixated on conquering the cobbles. “Back then I didn’t know what rider I was, but I was so excited to have this amazing race on my calendar,” she said. “The first time was crazy, I crashed loads and had bad luck, and kind of wrote it off. But the last two years I have come back and got some solid top-10 results and I started to have a bit more of a love relationship with it. It’s a dream race of mine to win, and I will keep coming back to win and fight for that biggest cobblestone.”

Cover image by Zac Williams/SWPix

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