Fabian Cancellara's defeat of Belgian dark horse Sep Vanmarcke (Team Blanco) at Paris-Roubaix probably upset a lot of Belgians but at least one celebrated the Swiss rider's dominance, knowing that he had played a key part in his success.
Dirk Demol guided Cancellara to victory, exactly 25 years after his own win at Paris-Roubaix.
"I've done this race so many times. I've been in the team car since the year 2000. On many occasions I headed back home being disappointed since we finished second, third... almost every top-10 result but never the victory. We had a good chance to win with Fabian but the fact that it's 25 years ago that I won myself makes it even more special. It's extraordinary. I'm very proud and unbelievably satisfied," Demol said.
Before the race Cancellara was the absolute favourite to win. He dominated E3 Harelbeke and won the Tour of Flanders by dropping Peter Sagan and everyone else in the race. His confidence took a knock when he crashed twice in the week before Paris- Roubaix; a first time in the Scheldeprijs and a second time while training on the cobbles. They both left their mark according to Demol.
"Before the race people asked me with how much of a gap Fabian would win by. But I don't think he was as strong as last week partly due to his two crashes. This week was difficult, the two crashes weren't good for us, especially his second crash, that was a nasty one," Demol said.
In contrast to most of his previous big wins, Cancellara didn't reach finish alone, forcing him to face Sep Vanmarcke in a sprint.
"This was the most difficult one to win for him," Demol said. "When there's two riders it can go either way. There's one who wins and one who loses."
Four kilometres from the finish Cancellara tried a late attack to avoid the sprint. It didn't work but he still had the speed to win. Demol wasn't happy about Cancellara's decision to attack.
"In that situation Sep was on the limit, just like Fabian, but he came back and it was clear he was dangerous. I was mad with Fabian. What was he doing? It wasn't necessary because Sep was giving as much support as he could. I think Fabian wanted to finish solo. I told him to stay calm and that he could make no mistakes because Vanmarcke is a tough one who'll sprint until the last centimetre, which he did," Demol said.
Despite Cancellara's superb spring campaign and RadioShack-Leopard's excellent riding in the Classics, main sponsor Radioshack is set to end its funding of the team and owner Flavio Becca has yet to secure a replacement and so secure Cancellara's place in the team. Demol naturally didn't want to discuss the topic.
"I'm only thinking about celebrating this victory for now," he concluded.