Andrea Guardini’s Paris-Roubaix ended somewhat unusually in a French police station, after the Italian sprinter was stopped by police as he tried to ride to Roubaix on the high-speed autoroute instead of on normal roads.
Contrary to initial reports, Guardini was not arrested by police but was simply picked up to avoid any kind of accident on the motorway packed with Sunday traffic.
The Italian explained what happened on Facebook, revealing that after pulling out of Paris-Roubaix at the second feed station, his UAE Team Emirates squad had advised him to ride to the finish. He tried to find the best route to Roubaix but ended up on the E23 motorway, with someone filming him and posting a video on Twitter of him riding on the hard shoulder.
“Some videos and photos are starting to appear, so perhaps it better if I explain exactly what happened…” Guardini wrote on his public fan club Facebook page on Sunday night, slightly embarrassed but trying to find the funny side to the end of his Sunday in Hell.
“I quit the race and when I got to the team car at the second feed. They told me to ‘cut across from the race and ride to the finish’. I took their word and would have quickly made it to Roubaix if I hadn’t found myself on the highway!
“Fortunately the Gendarmerie found me, loaded my bike in their car and took me to the local police station. I can only thank them for their help; they even let me watch the finish of the race with them. I was also able to contact my wife, who called the team so that a soigneur could come and collect me.”
Guardini and one of the police officers posted photographs on Facebook, with Guardini giving them his race jersey as thanks for their help.
“I’m sure the team will tease me about what happened for a long time but I want to make it clear that I wasn’t arrested, my criminal record is still intact and we even had a laugh about it,” he wrote.
“Of course I was obliged to give the police a little present as a way of thanks and they now have my Paris-Roubaix race jersey.”