Written by By Samia Mahbubani, CNN
Since taking over as race director of the famous Paris-Roubaix race in 1996, Philippe Mauduit has seen competitors from all over the world race the urban, hilly roads of French cycling’s premier event.
But there has one particular rider who stands out to him — and you guessed it — a woman.
Here’s a look at some of the women who will be racing the 100-mile course in 2019.
Cyclist Rene Cugini during a training ride in 2015. Credit: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
Rémi Cugini (France)
One of the few women to compete in the men’s race, Cugini achieved great success on the track and in triathlons — where her skills were recently showcased on the newly unveiled endurance series The Rogue. She was also named the 2020 Olympic women’s road race selector.
“Through her achievements and tireless enthusiasm, Cugini has earned the respect of her peers,” The Rogue website states.
Rémi Cugini during her victory in the women’s portion of the race in 2017. Credit: Emile Rogell/Reuters
Victoria Robben (Switzerland)
Robben is also the reigning race champion, having come out on top in 2017 for the second time.
The Swiss rider has focused her training on technical descents, an integral part of the Roubaix course.
Cyclist Simon Gouffran during training in 2016. Credit: Christophe Ena/AP/REX/Shutterstock
Simon Gouffran (France)
Known by her pseudonym “Atillé” — French for inspiration, of course — Gouffran won the winner in 2013. She is still active in cycling competitions and will compete at this year’s Paris-Roubaix with an eye on defending her title.
Samantha Crawford during a training ride in 2015. Credit: Yoan Valat/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Samantha Crawford (Great Britain)
A former winner of the Isle of Man TT motorcycling event, Crawford announced her full comeback to road cycling after a long break.
“I am racing the Paris-Roubaix this year to get myself back into shape before the next [British] Grand Prix,” she said, via the race’s official website.
Australian rider Ellen MacArthur during her victory in the women’s portion of the race in 2017. Credit: Martin Rose/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Ellen MacArthur (Australia)
Born in Australia, MacArthur has competed in the race since 2010 and looks to be making a comeback for 2019.
MacArthur poses with the men’s champion, Russian rider Marcel Kittel, during the 2017 race. Credit: Felix Umanzor/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock
Marie-Bernard Desvignes (France)
Desvignes was world champion in 2014 and the only female to win the race since it became an official race in 1987. She looks set to defend her title in 2019.