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Queens of Hell: How Trek-Segafredo rock ‘n’ rolled Roubaix once more

Robyn Davidson
3 May 2022

The Spring Classics might have passed in the blink of an eye, but Trek-Segafredo’s teamwork is standing the test of time at Roubaix

Jürgen Klopp once described his style of play as ‘heavy metal football.’ Fast. Intense. Pressuring.

Rock 'n' roll.

Elisa Longo Borghini certainly had the peloton pressured and dancing to the beat of her own drum at Paris-Roubaix Femmes.

Smashing the cobblestones with as much panache as The Who’s Pete Townshend with a new guitar, it was a rock 'n’ roll display of dominance, but most of all, an unforgettable performance.

Almost like Townshend, the Italian came close to shattering her cobblestone into hundreds of tiny pieces. Not deliberately of course, simply a result of giving a heavy rock to a cyclist. Let alone the 124 kilometres raced. But less about a rock, let’s roll…

In their own words, here's how the Trek-Segafredo team dominated Roubaix.

Tim de Waele via Getty Images.

Like a band, each member of the team played their part to perfection.

It began with Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, the directeur sportif (or band manager) who was in the convoy for both Trek-Segafredo victories.

Races can differ completely simply because of the weather.

Teutenberg noted the 2022 Paris-Roubaix Femmes was easier to control because of the dry conditions. Riders had more of an ability to react to crashes, punctures and attacks.

‘Last year happened more out of circumstances on the day [as opposed to a planned breakaway].

‘This year it was a bit more controlled. The race was dry and there were punctures, but not as many crashes. People could react to them now, last time there was no way to stop. It made it a little less chaotic.’

But such is the nature of Paris-Roubaix. Arbitrary forces dish consequences onto those who dare to venture onto its course. Race plans need adjusting in the blink of an eye.

‘The plan changed to being more aggressive when Elisa Balsamo was disqualified.’

Expectations already weighed on Trek-Segafredo. While defending champion Lizzie Deignan would not be present, key riders such as Ellen van Dijk, Audrey Cordon-Ragot and Lucinda Brand took to the start line.

All were instrumental in ensuring Elisa Longo Borghini’s attack proved successful.

'You need to believe until the finish line.'

Enter stage left: Audrey Cordon-Ragot. She strikes me as a bass player. Putting in the groundwork and ensuring other members of the group can play their role as a steady, united force.

‘This year was a bit more compact at the beginning of the race. For this edition, we had more of a team tactic whereas last year it was just about surviving.

‘I think we rode more together this year. We could control everything and not miss any dangerous breakaways.’

Of course, you can only control so much. Other aspects are out of your hands, but you must stay focussed to have the best chance possible.

‘Always be super concentrated. You could have a puncture but look at Ellen [van Dijk] who was still top 10 at the end.

‘It’s a really unpredictable race where everything can happen. So, you really need to stay focussed and to believe until the finish line.’

Bas Czerwinski via Getty Images.

If anyone was to be the lead singer at the 2022 Paris-Roubaix Femmes, it was Elisa Longo Borghini.

With 24 kilometres remaining, the Italian national champion attacked on the three-star Bourghelles à Wannehain secteur.

She said ‘At the very beginning when I attacked, I thought that I could have put my team in a very good position because other teams had to chase me.

‘As soon as I was at the front, all the riders were covering attacks, Ellen [van Dijk] and Lucinda [Brand] especially, but I also really would like to mention all the work that Audrey [Cordon-Ragot] and Chloe [Hoskings] did at the beginning, and Elisa [Balsamo] too.’

As she had been the previous year, Teutenberg was positioned behind the solo winning move in the team car, instrumental to success.

‘Van Dijk and Brand were just so important whenever others tried to attack' Teutenberg said, 'They were there in the chasing group of four.'

‘The first attack from Longo Borghini lasted but Van Dijk and Brand were so good on the day that we had other chances if she was caught too.

‘I think they really got into peoples’ heads, like goddamn it, we can’t even drop the other two while trying to chase the one ahead.

‘In the end when it was a bigger group together, only SD Worx was pulling so that worked to our advantage.

‘Even my bronze medal at the Olympic Games is second place compared to this.'

So when did Longo Borghini dare to dream?

‘As soon as I got a gap, I was like, I’m going to win this race.

'When I entered the velodrome, I knew no-one would catch me.

‘I said already that first there’s riding through hell, and then all of a sudden, it’s into paradise.

‘Even my bronze medal at the Olympic Games is second place compared to this. It’s the biggest victory of my career so far.

‘I watch it back and if it wasn’t for my teammates, I probably wouldn’t have won this race. My first thought was to bring them out on the podium because it was really a team victory.

Pool via Getty Images.

The Spring Classics might be over, but Trek-Segafredo’s dominance at Paris-Roubaix remains. In both 2021 and 2022, the team played their roles to perfection, chasing down attacks while their lone leader stayed away to win.

Teamwork extends from the confines of designated riders out on the road, to behind in team cars, to the mechanics, soigneurs and staff.

‘If you looked at the calendar now, Roubaix would probably be the one I would have loved to race,’ says Teutenberg, ‘I think it’s really exciting for me to do all the preparation around it.

‘You see too how much the mechanics put into it, so it’s a very high-strung race before you get there.

‘The emotions of winning it are sometimes a bit more elevated just because of what goes into it.

‘It’s not like the other classics are not a big win, but there’s a lot of relief when you are able to succeed at Paris-Roubaix.’

Trek-Segafredo truly are the Queens of Hell.

Main image credits: Pool via Getty Images