The former world champion joined her Trek-Segafredo team-mates to recon the iconic pavé sectors of northern France, ahead of the first ever women’s Paris-Roubaix next month.
For the first time, the women’s peloton will be racing 116 kilometres over the hallowed cycling ground, taking on 17 cobbled sectors, before finishing in the famed Roubaix velodrome.
On Sunday (February 28) Trek-Segafredo hit the farm tracks to prepare for the race on April 11, with Deignan sharing her first impressions.
The 32-year-old said: “I was pleasantly surprised. The biggest thing to take away from it for me was that physically it’s just so difficult. Skilfully I’m comfortable, I’m happy on the cobbles.
“But physically it’s going to be one of the most demanding races.”
Deignan added: “It’s different to what I expected.
“Physically it’s more draining than I expected to ride on the cobbles for that long, but I feel like I’m skilful enough to handle those cobbles, which I was a little bit worried about.”
A women’s Paris-Roubaix has been a long-awaited addition to the pro calendar and was met with huge excitement from riders and fans when it was announced by the UCI last year.
The race is expected to attract the biggest talents from the women’s peloton, and while the start list is yet to be confirmed, Deignan will be among the stars targeting the race.
Reacting to the announcement of a Paris-Roubaix Femmes last May, Deignan said: “Obviously this is an amazing surprise, I’m really delighted! I think Paris-Roubaix is an iconic race, one of the races that attracts most fans in cycling and if we can attract those same fans to women’s cycling, I think it’s a really positive thing.”
The first women’s Paris-Roubaix was scheduled to take place in late 2020, but had to be delayed by a year as the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Former world champion Annemiek van Vleuten also said: “The most surprising news is the Paris-Roubaix for women. I always said I will only quit when they will first organise a Paris-Roubaix for women and finally they will have… but I’m not going to quit yet!”