Magnus Backstedt was in awe of Lizzie Deignan’s bike-handling skills in her brilliant Paris-Roubaix success.
British rider Deignan jumped away on the first cobbled section and held the chasing pack - headed by Marianne Vos - at bay in wintery conditions to cross the line first in the famous velodrome.
An emotional Deignan’s hands were blooded as she crossed the line, as a result of the brutal cobbled sections in northern France.
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“Blood, mud and tears” was how Backstedt summed up the performance of the British 32-year-old.
“It is remarkable,” Backstedt said on The Breakaway. “It is the kind of day where you can do that ride as it was wet, muddy and with all the risks - we saw so many riders crashing and crazy stuff. It was a brave tactic, but she had the legs to pull it off.”
Towards the end of the race, with the cobbles wet and muddy, there was an amazing sight of Deignan sliding from side to side as she struggled to retain control of her back wheel.
That she did not come a cropper was testament to her bike-handling skills, according to Backstedt.
"Technically she was very good,” Backstedt said. “The way she handled the bike, we saw a couple of times she had full-on slides in both directions and she still managed to hold it and roll with it. It was amazing the way she handled it.”
Reflecting on the sight of Deignan’s bloodied hands, Backstedt said: “On a day like today, you need the feel for the bike. Feeding through from the tyres to the wheels, through the handlebars and getting that fingertip sensation with how you handle the bike in every corner is vital. So it is probably more vital on a day like today not to wear the gloves than in any other race.
“If you’d worn gloves or not, today your hands would have been shredded by the time you take them off anyway.”
Vos and Elisa Longo Borghini chased home Deignan, and Olympic gold medallist Dani Rowe feels it was a fitting podium for the first Paris-Roubaix Femmes.
“It means so much and is powerful for the sport to have such a podium,” Rowe said. “Elisa Longo Borghini as well, as she has played such a vital role on so many other victories. She does not have a sprint on her, but is such a powerful domestique so to be on the podium is really special.
“It will be incredible for Lizzie to have a team-mate (Longo Borghini) on the podium, and Marianne Vos - the legend of cycling.”
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