By Gregor Brown in Roubaix
One of the most powerful up and coming riders, Russian Mikhail Ignatiev, had a hard day in the 106th Paris-Roubaix. Flats and hand cramps ruined his chances for a high result, although his Tinkoff Credit Systems team-mate, Alexander Serov, featured in the early escape of three in the race that was attended by team owner Oleg Tinkov.
"Oleg Tinkov flew in from Russia and arrived 10 minutes before the start," 22 year-old Ignatiev, 2004 Olympic Points Race winner, noted to Cyclingnews at the start of the day. "We talked, and he believes that if I can stick on the wheels I can get in the top ten."
Even though the team enjoyed early success with Serov, Ignatiev flatted twice. "Two times my tire flatted. The first time it was right after the race started and the second time was in the Arenberg Forest. I was alone and chased back to the group, but then I was very, very tired. After that it was no longer possible for me to contend with the top riders."
The misfortunes continued for Ignatiev, who found the jarring of the pavé sectors too much for his hands. "Unfortunately, there were huge problems with my hands in the last three sectors. I had to let up, it was not possible to grip the handlebars."
It was Ignatiev's debut in the race known as the 'Queen of the Classics.' "This is a grand race," he confirmed.
The race traditionally ends with one and a half laps on the Roubaix velodrome. "I think that is beautiful here in the velodrome. It is my first time and I did not have a good understanding of all the problems that existed – now I understand. I will return in the next years better prepared."