By Greg Johnson
Team CSC entered Sunday's Paris-Roubaix with the aim of taking its third consecutive win in the famed Spring Classic. The Danish squad entered the event with a double pronged strategy and a solid line-up, but it just didn't work out right for the team.
On the one hand the outfit had defending champion Stuart O'Grady, who was hungry to defend his title and take another victory on the cobbles, following a season-ending crash at the Tour de France last July. On the other hand was Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara, who claimed the team's first title at the event in 2006. Cancellara had already won Milano-Sanremo, but missed the rare Sanremo-Flanders double. The Swiss rider placed 23rd, coming home in a big group led in by Alessandro Ballan in fourth place, 21 seconds after Stijn Devolder.
O'Grady sacrificed his own hopes to set Cancellara up when he chased down an attack by Ronde van Vlaanderen winner Stijn Devolder (Quick Step). The South Australian exploded out of the front group in pursuit of the Belgian champion, in what originally looked like a race threatening move.
"There was no point in me just riding behind and doing tempo - it would have just killed me anyway," O'Grady told AFP of the move. "I thought at least if I jumped ahead then it would have put the pressure on [Silence] Lotto and Lampre to chase me down and set up Fabian for a launch.
"That worked like a charm," he added. "We certainly blew Lotto apart, and took out a few of the opponents."
Despite the strength of its entry, the team had one thing standing in the way of a three-peat: Belgium's Tom Boonen (Quick Step). While Boonen was a threat from the outset, Team CSC stayed in with a chance of victory after O'Grady's move launched Cancellara into the decisive break with Boonen and Italy's Alessandro Ballan (Lampre).
Tornado Tom won the event in 2005 and finished second to Cancellara the following year, something the Belgian didn't want to repeat in this year's race.
Find out more about the team's take on Paris-Roubaix.