Team Sky take heart from Moscon's Paris-Roubaix showing

Ellingworth draws comparison between Italian's fifth place and Boonen's 2002 ride

Team Sky’s Rod Ellingworth drew comparisons between Gianni Moscon and Tom Boonen after the 22-year-old Italian took fifth at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. Boonen, who was competing in his last Paris-Roubaix at the weekend, signalled his place as a future great with an impressive third place on his debut at the age of 21 in 2002.

Moscon made his first appearance at the Hell of the North last year, and looked strong until a crash ended his hopes of a good result. This year, he fell afoul of a few incidents but managed to chase back on every time. He rode a tactically astute race, earning himself a shot at sprinting for the win, but his sprint was no match for his much more experienced companions.

The result puts Moscon in a small group of riders who have finished in the top 10 at Paris-Roubaix under the age of 23. In recent seasons, only Peter Sagan and Yves Lampaert have done it, finishing sixth and seventh respectively at the age of 23. Sep Vanmarcke was 24 when he made it onto the podium back in 2013, taking second behind Fabian Cancellara in a two-man sprint. The performance suitably impressed Ellingworth.

“Servais [Knaven] said keep going and going, and he didn’t stop. I’m super happy for him. Maybe that’s the youngest since Boonen to get that type of result. That’s pretty good,” Ellingworth told Cyclingnews. “He had two crashes and a bike change but he just kept fighting. One thing that Servais told him was to never give up in this situation.

“It’s nice that he’s actually done it. He showed last week in Flanders that he had the capability but I think that the last time up the Paterberg his legs just went. You just never knew when he was going to run out of energy. That was impressive.”

Moscon had to jump a several hurdles to make his fifth place and the team had a busy afternoon attending to stricken riders. The had hoped to have numbers at the finish, but Christian Knees was their next best rider at 9:41 down and last year’s third place Ian Stannard came through in the same group. Both Owain Doull and Jonathan Dibben crashed and would eventually finish out of time, while Lukasz Wisniowski, Luke Rowe and Elia Viviani didn’t make it to the velodrome. The trials and tribulations sum up what was a challenging cobbled Classics campaign for the team.

“We’re also disappointed because we also had a lot of bad luck. Wisniowski crashed, Dibben crashed and Doull crashed, Moscon crashed twice, Stannard flatted and Luke flatted,” said Ellingworth. “Elia did a good job, he kept waiting for each of them to bring them back up. For Luke and Ian, considering they were full on for this and they put so much into this because it was their opportunity, it is disappointing. We’ll be alright and we’ll bounce back.

“I think that we’ve had a lot of bad luck but you do create your own luck sometimes. The lads are disappointed but they’ll bounce back. It’s one of them. Luke was third in Kuurne, that was the only podium, but it wasn’t for not trying. Their commitment has been fantastic and not just in the races but in the build-up also. It has been pretty impressive.”

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