The snow-hit Paris-Roubaix of 1994

Looking back, I wonder whether I put some kind of hex on Johan Museeuw. The weekend prior to reporting on my first Paris-Roubaix, I’d covered the Tour of Flanders for the first time. I’d bagged a ride there with Belgian journalist Noel Truyers in a car driven by Paul Wellens, whose illustrious palmarès featured a sixth place finish in the 1978 Tour de France. I had absolutely no idea who Wellens was and, in fact, barely knew where I was, as he guided the car through a warren of tiny lanes heaving with boisterous fans. But at the finish I gained an illuminating insight into what the race meant to those fans as Gianni Bugno beat Museeuw by a tyre’s width, the Italian’s success completing puncturing the festive atmosphere. Sitting on a school child’s chair in a playground adjacent to the finish, a devastated Museeuw mumbled through an impromptu press conference. Roubaix, he suggested, might offer redemption.

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).