Soler shines in Paris-Roubaix debut

Paris-Nice winner features prominently in breakaway

Marc Soler became the first reigning Paris-Nice champion to ride Paris-Roubaix in some 30 years on Sunday and while the Spaniard might not have been able to do what Sean Kelly did in 1984 and '86, when he won both races in the same season, the Movistar rider put in an impressive performance nevertheless.

24-year-old Soler got well and truly stuck into the Hell of the North and was one of six riders, which eventually became nine, to jump clear after a frenetic 50 kilometres of racing. As his companions dropped off one by one, Soler was still there, making it through the Trouée d'Arenberg and beyond before he was eventually caught and passed by a charging Zdenek Stybar with 64 kilometres to go.

Unaware that he had eventually abandoned, Cyclingnews set off in search of him in the track centre in Roubaix.

"He was finished," the response came from a team soigneur when asked if Soler had completed the race. Despite climbing off early, and despite being a stage race rider, Soler was full of smiles and enjoyed his day out on the pavé.

"It's incredible, the whole race, so many people and a lot of wind. I really like it," Soler told Cyclingnews outside his team bus where he was waiting for the return of his teammates.

"The truth is I am a little bit tired but I'm really happy. I was able to be in the breakaway until near the end. I wanted to keep going but I could not continue to pull."

Movistar's spring campaign

Soler is not the only Movistar general classification rider to test out the cobbles this spring, with Mikel Landa having a go at E3 Harelbeke and Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde contesting Dwars door Vlaanderen. However, Paris-Roubaix is an entirely different kettle of fish and Soler's inclusion in the line-up was nothing less than a surprise.

At around 68 kilos, Soler - who also finished on the podium at the Ruta del Sol and took sixth in the GP Miguel Indurain - gives away a good 5-10 kilos on the specialists, but he was keen to have a bash. And when you're young with fewer pressures to perform elsewhere, there is no better time to try.

"I wanted to learn what it was like on the pavé. I just wanted to enjoy it and learn," he said. "Now I've been here and I've seen it and I've learned a lot."

It seems though that while Soler enjoyed his day out on the pavé there is certainly no desire to turn himself into a Classics rider. He's had a taste for the cobbles and that is sufficient for now for the 24-year-old.

"I don't know, I don't know," he laughed when Cyclingnews asked if he would come back. "The truth is that to race it once is enough and I don't know if I would come back. But I loved it, I really liked it."

With Paris-Roubaix now done and dusted, Soler has clocked up 30 race days already this season. He will now take a break and points to the Criterium du Dauphine, where he will be on more familiar territory, as his next goal.

THE HOLY WEEK - Trailer from Cyclingnews Films on Vimeo.

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