By Gregor Brown in Roubaix, France
Garmin-Slipstream's Steven Cozza is excited about his Spring Classic potential after being part of the key 11-man move that went clear of the Paris-Roubaix peloton on Sunday. The group battled its way over 15 of the 27 pavé sectors before it disintegrated, but the American feels he has pocketed knowledge that can be used in future events.
"I am pretty excited for the future for these races after the last two weeks," Cozza told Cyclingnews. "I learnt a lot with that group, including the former winner of Paris-Roubaix [Servais Knaven]. I got to see how they take the cobbles, what cadence they push and it was a cool experience."
Despite being Cozza's Paris-Roubaix debut, he gave Garmin-Slipstream representation in the escape group that went clear 42 kilometres into the 259-kilometre Northern Classic. The group blew apart when an elite chase group with eventual winner Tom Boonen (Quick Step) joined them prior to the Orchies sector, at kilometre 196.
Escape companions Andreas Klier (Cervélo TestTeam) and Kasper Klostergård (Saxo Bank) were able to stay with the new front group for some time after, but Cozza lost his momentum and slid back through chasing riders. "I am disappointed with myself for not making the front group after they caught us, but I gave it my all," he said.
Cozza's move was to give teammate Martijn Maaskant a hand when the favourites caught up. Maaskant crashed in the Haveluy à Wallers sector, prior to the race's deciding point in the Arenberg Forest. Other crashed riders and following cars held the Dutchman and his teammates as they tried to rejoin the action.
"My radio was not working so I was not able to hear about what was going on with Martyn, but anyway it did not work out," he added.
Cozza still had to negotiate the remainder of the course after the favourites passed him. Cozza crashed prior to entering Roubaix's velodrome in 64th position, leaving hime with minor scrapes on his face and arm.
He missed Ronde van Vlaanderen and Roubaix last year due to a crash and subsequent fractured collarbone in KBC-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde.