Crashes crush Rabobank hopes

Things didn't work out at Paris-Roubaix the way Rabobank had hoped they would. Instead of a podium...

Things didn't work out at Paris-Roubaix the way Rabobank had hoped they would. Instead of a podium place, captain Juan Antonio Flecha finished over five minutes back, in 12th place. The team's other hope for a high finish, Sebastian Langeveld, lost his chance when he crashed into a ditch with some 50 kilometres to go – a crash which caused him to drop out with only 15 kilometres left in the race.

Flecha also crashed, shortly before the Forest of Wallers-Arenberg, and although he was able to get back near the front, he had used up so much energy catching up again, he had nothing left to go with any attacks. The leaders picked up the pace when he crashed, and team leader Adri van Houwelingen noted on the team's website, rabobank.nl, "If you can cause a potential winner like Flecha to fall behind, then some teams will be willing to put an extra man in the front to pick up the tempo."

The Spaniard fought back as best he could, with the support of his team-mates, but to no real avail. "He had to battle for 35 kilometers, while in the meantime they were not sitting still in the front. But, in this race you can only reload your gun once. When push came to shove, he was simply exhausted," van Houwelingen said. "But we already knew this the moment he fell and when they really started to run amok in the front."

Sebastian Langeveld was near the front when, with about 56 kilometers to go, he slipped on dirt in the road on a corner, and flew into a ditch. His bike was totaled, and it was a minute and a half before he could get a replacement. The Dutchman did what he could, but had to drop out eventually.

"He really could not compete anymore," van Houwelingen said. "'Sebas' had crashed hard. It was courageous that he wanted to continue on and that eventually he even ended up in the second group behind the three race leaders. However, the damage sustained turned out to be far worse than we thought after the crash. He really suffered some wounds and bruises during the crash." Langeveld is scheduled to ride the upcoming Amstel Gold Race, but it depends on his condition. "We are going to have to wait and see how this situation develops," added van Houwelingen.

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