By Brecht Decaluwé in Roubaix, France
Martijn Maaskant hopes to salvage his Spring Classics campaign at this weekend's Amstel Gold race after a poorly timed puncture ruined his Paris-Roubaix hopes. The Garmin-Slipstream rider, who finished 75th at last year's Amstel Gold Race, believes a result at the Limburg-based event in the Netherlands South will be difficult due to his preparation.
"Wednesday we're heading for Lanaken, Limburg where I'll be training on the course," he told Cyclingnews. "This isn't the best build-up for the Amstel, also mentally, but I'll do my very best to perform well.
"I think you need to skip Paris-Roubaix to keep up with the specialists, like Karsten Kroon, Sergey Ivanov and Nick Nuyens did," he added. "I guess they are better suited for that race while I'm more built for Roubaix. There will be high expectations from the Dutch crowd and media, but last year that was the case as well and I couldn't live up to that."
Maaskant earned attention at last year's Paris-Roubaix, where he finished fourth on debut, placing expectation on the rider ahead of this year's race. A fourth place at Ronde van Vlaanderen earlier this month confirmed Maaskant's form, but it all came undone due to the timing of a puncture on the last pavé sector before the Arenberg forest.
His teammates Michael Friedman and William Frischkorn waited to bring their leader back to the front, but they didn't make it back before the peloton reached Trouée d'Arenberg.
"We were bridging back up to the peloton in the forest but then we were held up by a big crash and the traffic jam of the cars behind it," Maaskant said. "Eventually I made it back up to the front but my front tyre flatted again and I crashed due to that; I can't remember on what sector that was."
The Trouée d'Arenberg is a key zone in the 259km long race. It's a 2400 metre long cobbled path where all the big guns move to the front, expecting crashes will occur and gaps will be created over the section.
"Of course you know that this can happen in Paris-Roubaix but of course I had hoped for a different race development," said Maaskant, who eventually finished in 98th. "It's a pity because Bradley Wiggins was going well, Steven Cozza featured in the early breakaway and I felt good, really good."
Team director Johnny Weltz was also disappointed with the outcome, having expected his squad to be amongst the leaders as the race neared Roubaix. "It was a big blow," he said. "He punctured at the worst moment. We lived up to his expectations because we know he could do it.
"Of course it's a big blow for him as well," added Weltz. "He came back to the front but crashed a bit later. Then I heard he started attacking but I guess that mentally it was already over."