By Gregor Brown in Roubaix, France
Manuel Quinziato proved to team Liquigas he is reliable to bring home the goods in the Northern Classics. The 29-year-old Italian shaped the finale of Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, only missing out when Quick Step's Tom Boonen launched his winning move on the Mons-en-Pévèle sector.
"I was captain for the first time in my life and at least I have shown that I can win these types of races," he said to Cyclingnews "I am adapted for these races and next year I will come back better."
Quinziato remained in front for the dangerous Arenberg sector at kilometre 164 of the 259-kilometre race. He punctured at the end of the 2400-metre sector, but was able to chase back to the favourites with Stijn Devolder's group. He then played his cards in the final third of the 'Hell of the North'.
"I knew that Boonen was stronger than I so I tried to attack in advance. I tried to gain an advantage with [Heinrich] Haussler and [Juan Antonio] Flecha, but there was a man from CSC [Saxo Bank's Kasper Klostergård] and Quick Step [Wouter Weylandt] who did not want to cooperate."
Quinziato formed part of a group of 15 men when Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) bridged up prior to the Auchy à Bersée sector. The group braced itself for the subsequent challenging sector of Mons-en-Pévèle. Boonen used the 3000-metre cobbled farm track as his launch pad for eventual success.
"When Tom attacked my lights went out and I lost my rhythm."
Quinziato lost out on the winning move – Boonen, Hushovd, Leif Hoste and Johan Van Summeren (Silence-Lotto), Pozzato and Flecha – but continued his battle with the following group. Haussler and Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) broke free in chase on the Camphin-en-Pévèle sector and Quinziato led his group home for ninth. It was his highest place, four better than last year's 13th.