Quick Step was left licking its wounds after a disastrous Paris-Roubaix in which both Tom Boonen and Sylvain Chavanel fell short due to punctures, mechanical and crashes. Boonen, a three-time Roubaix champion, was forced to abandon while Chavanel finished a disappointing 38th, 4:46 down on winner Johan Van Summeren (Garmin Cervelo).
“I’ve never seen such bad luck,” said sports director Wilfried Peeters, at the finish.
“In all our years racing we have never been so unlucky. We really weren’t ever able to express our full potential due to mechanical problems, flat tyres and falls. Boonen and Chavanel especially, but the other riders also were very unlucky, with lots of flats and accidents that put them out of play.”
Boonen and Chavanel came into the race as two of the most fancied riders having both played major roles in this season’s Classics. Boonen had won Gent-Wevelgem and finished fourth in the Tour of Flanders while Chavanel had found his feet as a Classics specialist, taking second in Flanders after being on the attack for 80 kilometres.
And all looked good for Quick Step in the early part of the race with both of their leaders out of trouble and the wind but on the infamous and crucial sector through the Arenberg, the race began to fall apart for the Belgian team.
“There’s not much to do when it comes to bad luck. In the Arenberg forest I had my first mechanical problem. My chain got stuck between the frame and the crankset, and I had to wait almost two minutes for the flagship car. I changed bikes and I was able to come back. Then the incredible happened. I was catching up to the group of the favourites after a long chase when the vibrations from the cobbles shook my water bottle loose and it ended up between the back wheel and the frame. The wheel suddenly was blocked, and I lost control of the bike. At that moment, Maarten Wynants was coming up on me. “
“He couldn’t avoid me and I ended up on the ground, hitting my knees. At that point, my race was over. In 10 years at the Roubaix I’d never had a flat and before this edition I’d only fallen twice, in 2003 and 2009. I was really unlucky. It’s too bad because I felt really good, and after my win at the Gent–Wevelgem and my fourth place in the Ronde, it would have been nice to have another positive result. It’s not up to me to say whether I could have won or not, but I was really having a good day. “
Chavanel survived the Arenberg but his luck ran out soon after when he punctured just after the Forest. Despite making contact with the main field the Frenchman crashed on an innocuous stretch of flat tarmac.
“I got two flat tyres, both at an important moment. I tried my best to get back in there both times. Then the fall definitely took me out. I fell hard in a left curve and did a cheese grater across the asphalt. I took up the chase again anyway, but at that point there was nothing more to do. This is also part of what the Roubaix is all about.”
“You have to learn to accept these difficult times, too. Mentally I’m going to try and turn the page as fast as possible and concentrate on next Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race.”