By Brecht Decaluwé in Roubaix
Directly after the finish of Paris-Roubaix, the riders hit the classic vélodrome showers, but even there, the riders aren't safe from reporters trying to find out what went on in the 'Hell of the North'. If it weren't for Paris-Roubaix the building would just be an old-fashioned bathing place, but history made this spot legendary. Each shower cell is given name of a past winner, and after the race, riders clean up in cells named after Eddy Merckx, Rik Van Looy, Fausto Coppi or Roger De Vlaeminck.
Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) washed up in the Peter Post zone while Julian Dean (Crédit Agricole) decided to have a go at the Eddy Merckx private area. The champion of New-Zealand washed up and reflected on a rough day on the cobbles. "This is not my favourite race," Dean said cynically. "I was waiting for the bus to abandon... but it didn't come so there was no other option than continuing. I wanted to save my injured hand, but I had no other choice," Dean said quietly.
Bernhard Eisel (T-Mobile) spent the race being frequently mentioned on race radio, but not because of attacks, but because of punctures and crashes. The multilingual Austrian was full of energy after finishing his shower, and described his unfortunate day. "One of the crashes was very strange. I was taking something with one hand off the handle bars when I suddenly had to move over. I almost went over the handle bars but somehow I managed to stay on the bike," said Eisel, giving an expressive demonstration of his position.
"Someone else looked back and for some reason we touched bikes and I was on the ground. Just before the Arenberg forest Boogie punctured and I gave him my wheel, then I had to wait for ages before I could continue. The funny thing is that I entered the forest as one of the last riders but still managed to get out of it in the second group," Eisel laughed and walked his way to the team bus.