Boonen and Chavanel both hit by bad luck and crashes
Quick Step was left licking its wounds after a disastrous Paris-Roubaix in which both Tom Boonen and Sylvain Chavanel fell short due to punctures, mechanical and crashes. Boonen, a three-time Roubaix champion, was forced to abandon while Chavanel finished a disappointing 38th, 4:46 down on winner Johan Van Summeren (Garmin Cervelo).
“I’ve never seen such bad luck,” said sports director Wilfried Peeters, at the finish.
“In all our years racing we have never been so unlucky. We really weren’t ever able to express our full potential due to mechanical problems, flat tyres and falls. Boonen and Chavanel especially, but the other riders also were very unlucky, with lots of flats and accidents that put them out of play.”
Boonen and Chavanel came into the race as two of the most fancied riders having both played major roles in this season’s Classics. Boonen had won Gent-Wevelgem and finished fourth in the Tour of Flanders while Chavanel had found his feet as a Classics specialist, taking second in Flanders after being on the attack for 80 kilometres.
And all looked good for Quick Step in the early part of the race with both of their leaders out of trouble and the wind but on the infamous and crucial sector through the Arenberg, the race began to fall apart for the Belgian team.
“There’s not much to do when it comes to bad luck. In the Arenberg forest I had my first mechanical problem. My chain got stuck between the frame and the crankset, and I had to wait almost two minutes for the flagship car. I changed bikes and I was able to come back. Then the incredible happened. I was catching up to the group of the favourites after a...
Surprise Roubaix winner proposes to girlfriend on velodrome
After coming out of the famous Wallers-Arenberg forest together with all the major favourites, the almost two-metre tall super-domestique and pavé-specialist Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervelo) reacted to the attack of former Roubaix winner Fréderic Guesdon (FDJ). From that moment on, "Summie" showed that he was among the strongest riders in the large breakaway group that dominated the finale of Paris-Roubaix.
In a tactical finale, the breakaway riders held off the top favourites and eventually battled it out amongst themselves for the win. Coincidentally, Van Summeren left his last breakaway companions behind on the same pavé sector where his appearance in the lead group was halted by Juan Antonio Flecha’s memorable crash in 2009.
“I think that was [the year] where people learned that I was capable of winning this race,” Van Summeren said. “Last year was a disaster. I expected a lot from this race in my new team, then called Garmin-Transitions. I wanted to do really well for my new bosses, but I felt it before the race even started.”
“Today simply was my dream day. Who would have dared to dream that?” Van Summeren said. “Last week Nick [Nuyens] was speechless, and now I'm speechless too. It's unbelievable. Normally one starts by winning a small race.” Before Sunday's victory the 30-year-old captured his sole professional win in the Tour of Poland back in 2007.
Van Summeren added his name beneath that of Fabian Cancellara on the impressive Paris-Roubaix roll of honour. “It's like Nuyens said last week [about his win in the Tour of Flanders], I will remain Paris-Roubaix winner for the rest of my life,” Van Summeren said. “Today's...
Almost every rider has a hard luck story to tell at the end of Paris-Roubaix, but Filippo Pozzato’s was arguably more frustrating than most on Sunday. Crashes and punctures are hazards that face all participants in the Hell of the North, and while Pozzato was one of the fallen with 60km to go, it was ultimately a puncture to his Katusha team car that ended his race.
Although Pozzato himself emerged relatively unscathed from the crash that befell him on the smooth road after the pavé at Orchies, he required a change of bike to continue. However, the unfortunate Italian found himself stranded in the most bizarre of circumstances and with his dreams of victory gone up in smoke, he abandoned the race.
“I hit a problem there as we didn’t have a car behind because it had punctured, so I couldn’t change my bike,” Pozzato told Cyclingnews after climbing out of the broom wagon at the finish. “The gear lever came off, so I couldn’t go on.”
Pozzato’s frustration was compounded by the fact that he had been riding with the group of pre-race favourites at the time of his accident, having safely negotiated the Forest of Arenberg near the head of the peloton.
“I was at the front,” he lamented. “Coming out of the forest I was right up there at the front.”
After suffering from cramps in the finale of the Tour of Flanders, Pozzato had been far more optimistic about his chances in Roubaix, and explained that he had been encouraged still further by his fluidity on the early sectors of cobbles.
“On the stretches of pavé I was going well, although it’s easy to say now that I was going well,” he smiled wanly. “But I was feeling very good, what can I say? Let’s just hope that...
Although Saxo Bank Sungard went into Paris-Roubaix 'without pressure', the end result was ultimately disappointing for team leader, Baden Cooke.
Cooke had been vocal in the lead-up to the l'enfer du Nord, open about what he described as the best form of his career and telling Cyclingnews that there is "no reason why" he couldn't be one of the first 10 men across the line in Roubaix.
What resulted however, was the stuff of nightmares and will no doubt be of the ilk that haunts so many men that have taken on the Queen of the Classics. Cooke crashed twice and on the second occasion, the impact broke his shoe.
Compatriot David Tanner had guided Cooke into contention ahead of the Carrefour de l'Arbre but then when rounding a bend took his teammate out. Although, the worst was yet to come.
"I was in the front group," the 33-year-old told AFP. "There was only five guys in front of us on the Carrefour. And then [Manuel] Quinziato just dropped it in front of me.
"I couldn't brake in time and went banging down, snapped my lever, snapped the cleat off my shoe, so I kept riding with one foot for about two kilometres.
"I got almost across the next sector before the [team] car got to me. Jumped on a new bike, I already had my shoe off but they didn't have the shoe ready because they couldn't hear me. Then I rode for another couple of k's with one shoe. When they finally gave me the shoe .... it was virtually over for me."
Bjarne Riis could only praise the efforts of his team.
"It was an amazingly exciting race. The boys did a really good job but Baden [Cooke] was so unlucky to crash on the most demanding cobblestone section so he had to change shoes and then the race was over for his part but he looked very strong and it's really just too bad to...
The Belgian had aimed for a top five finish in the race, to go along with his fourth in 2007 and sixth in 2010. But this year he managed - perhaps fittingly for the day - only the 13th place, 47 seconds behind winner Johan Van Summeren in the first large chase group.
The 33-year-old punctured for the first time just before the Wallers forest. Shortly thereafter, he was driven off the road, breaking hs bike. Teammate Borut Bozic gave up his bike, which Leukemans rode for several kilometres before the team car could catch up with him and give him a new one.
Leukemans then crashed twice more along the way, both times just as joined up again with the lead group. He punctured three times as well, the last time as he attacked on the cobbles of Hem, within the last ten kilometres. If that wasn't enough, he was three times caught behind crashes during the race just as breaks got away.
To top it all off, he went into the final sprint in the velodrome with no gears. One of the two crashes on his replacement bike had damaged the shifters.
"I managed to get back every time but so much bad luck cost me too much power," Leukemans said on the team's website. "This is part of Paris-Roubaix but this much bad luck crashing over other riders three times and the flat tyres is frustrating."
Third place in Paris-Roubaix "greatest day ever" for Rabobank rider
Rabobank's Maarten Tjallingii was perhaps the happiest man in the Roubaix velodrome right after the winner of this year's 'Hell of the North', Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervelo). Finishing third, the Dutchman was able to receive podium honours in his favourite race, and even if he missed out on the victory by only 19 seconds, it was an enormous accomplishment for the 33-year-old.
"This is by far the greatest race I've ever done in my life," said Tjallingii on the team's website. "Not the despicable fourth place, but the podium! I am very happy about this result. Of course, winning is the most important thing, but the way in which the race unfolded, this was the best I could do. For me personally, it's an enormous confirmation of what I'm capable of."
Tjallingii was part of the day's first breakaway, which went clear after 100 kilometres of racing. He was one of the main driving forces at the front until the later winner Van Summeren attacked with 15 kilometres to go.
"We were four guys still remaining and on the very last cobblestone sector (Carrefour de l'Arbre) 'Summie' attacked, taking with him the second man. I was sitting in third position and had to close the gap. That was too much, and the end of my winning ambitions," said the Dutchman.
But Tjallingii continued on a solid chase together with RadioShack's Gregory Rast, and was determined enough to hold onto Fabian Cancellara's wheel when the Leopard Trek rider came up on the remaining chasers with just a couple of kilometres to go.
"Three kilometres from the finish Cancellara came up to us. I had expected him sooner than that and had therefore kept a little reserve. I really wanted to keep up with these guys. I thought to myself: 'Now I'm going for the podium, I'm not going to...
Team Sky rider unable to respond to Van Summeren's attack
Mathew Hayman (Team Sky) rode to a solid tenth place – his highest finish ever – in Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix but was left to think of what might have been at the finish after being part of the day’s main break.
Hayman attacked along with winner Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervelo) and made the day’s main break. But with 15 kilometres to go and as Van Summeren and three others broke clear, Hayman was unable to respond.
He was caught by the main group of challengers and shepherded his team leader Juan Antonio Flecha through to a ninth place finish.
Despite two top ten finishes it was a mixed day for Team Sky. Co-leader Geraint Thomas crashed three times during the race but in this exclusive video, Hayman talks about his race day.
"It's a great day for us. We have worked hard and we deserved this,” he told ProCycling.no. “We have a strong team, but we've had a lot of bad luck so far this season. Today, we showed that we are one of the world's best cycling teams. We controlled the race and played the cards perfectly.”
Van Summeren got into a breakaway, with Hushovd in the following chase group. When favourite Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) took off in a vain effort to catch the leaders, Hushovd went with him, not to chase his own teammate but to prevent Cancellara from doing so.
That meant that Hushovd didn't do any of the lead work, much to the Swiss rider's dismay. “I couldn't do that, when my own teammate is in front,” he said.
The Norwegian had praise for Peter Van Petegem, who has temporarily joined the US-based team as a consultant for the cobble classics. “Today, Peter Van Petegem did a good job. It was he who gave the message that Van Summeren should attack, and it worked 100 percent. We got paid for our teamwork, and I was also a strong part of it. When we end up winning the race, it is fantastic for us.”
Hushovd, 33, was not disappointed to have finished...