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Bad luck comes in threes, according to an old saying, and Björn Leukemans of Vacansoleil-DCM probably believes in it now. In Sunday's Paris-Roubaix, the Belgian suffered three different problems, each of them three times.
The Belgian had aimed for a top five finish in the race, to go along with his fourth in 2007 and sixth in 2010. But this year he managed - perhaps fittingly for the day - only the 13th place, 47 seconds behind winner Johan Van Summeren in the first large chase group.
The 33-year-old punctured for the first time just before the Wallers forest. Shortly thereafter, he was driven off the road, breaking hs bike. Teammate Borut Bozic gave up his bike, which Leukemans rode for several kilometres before the team car could catch up with him and give him a new one.
Leukemans then crashed twice more along the way, both times just as joined up again with the lead group. He punctured three times as well, the last time as he attacked on the cobbles of Hem, within the last ten kilometres. If that wasn't enough, he was three times caught behind crashes during the race just as breaks got away.
To top it all off, he went into the final sprint in the velodrome with no gears. One of the two crashes on his replacement bike had damaged the shifters.
"I managed to get back every time but so much bad luck cost me too much power," Leukemans said on the team's website. "This is part of Paris-Roubaix but this much bad luck crashing over other riders three times and the flat tyres is frustrating."