Enrico Franzoi of Lampre-Fondital did it again. The young Italian used his cyclo-cross skills to conquered the pavé of the 105th Paris-Roubaix, spending another long day off the front of the peloton after last week's Ronde van Vlaanderen escapades.
Just like before, the idea was to put a Lampre rider in the front escape to ease the pressure on team captain Alessandro Ballan and his team-mates. Only this week it was a very large escape group, numbering 34 riders at one point.
"I wanted to enter the right escape and I did it," the 24 year-old recalled to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "But it was a strange escape, a large group of riders, an escape that was not destined to die."
Franzoi indicated to Cyclingnews one day before the race that this last winter he had been working on building his abilities over long distances. "This winter I worked on my distance, the kilometres, by going on long rides. At times I would go out on rides of 270 kilometres. It is obvious that now I have some difficulties with the distance but I hope that in the future, after I become more accustomed to these races, I can fight for victory."
The last two weekends combined added up to around 400 kilometres spent off the front of the main peloton. "I felt good up until Carrefour de l'Arbre, when there was the decisive attack, and then I could do no more, I was already all out.
"When Tom Boonen caught up [with Franzoi and Hammond - ed.] he asked me to help pull so that we could catch the next group. I did not have to respond, I was already having trouble just holding onto his wheel."