Matej Mohorič looked like he would add Paris-Roubaix to a Milan San-Remo victory for a period during Sunday's race, spending 80 kilometres in a lead group and in a lengthy solo break. But the Bahrain Victorious rider was dealt poor fortune by a flat tyre with 38km to go.
He would attack 10km later before sector 7 at Cysoing to return to a lead group, this time a quartet that included Tom Devriendt (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), who was in the original group, Yves Lampaert (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) and eventual winner Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers). Later when Van Baarle pushed on alone at Camphin-en-Pévèle, Mohorič would be left to chase, and crossed the line at the finish in fifth place, 1:47 back.
“I was quite lucky in the chaos,” Mohorič said after the race. “I was in the breakaway which was a big advantage for me.”
However, time spent out in a small lead group, and solo for a period of time, took its toll on the Milan-San Remo winner.
“I wasted a lot of energy but which was not good,” Mohorič said. “I had one puncture and I decided to change it even though I was riding tubeless so it sealed.”
Out alone at around 50km to go, Mohorič quickly became the bookies' favourite for the win, and felt he was in good stead to stay out. “I believed up until the puncture and I still believed afterwards, but when I tried to follow Van Baarle and hang on, I knew it was gonna be hard."
Mohorič then worked with Devriendt, chasing the leading three riders. “We worked well together with the rider from Wanty and I did my best again in the final, and then in the sprint I messed up."
Coming into the Roubaix velodrome for the finish, Mohorič remained optimistic that tactics up front may have offered him a chance to catch up with Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) to compete for the podium.
“I was hoping Küng and Van Aert would wait for the last minute then I would maybe be able to kick fast and get an advantage, but it didn't happen. I didn't have the legs. It was a really honest finish,” Mohorič said.
“I really wanted the podium but this is how it is and it was the maximum today. I'm still proud of my race. Also I had Sonny [Colbrelli] in mind all day. I'm sorry that he's not here with us today, but I hope you can come back in the future.
“This is racing and I think it was like a great race and a great show for the fans. Hopefully next year, we can take the win.”
Last year, Colbrelli took an epic three-up sprint victory at his inaugural Hell of the North, edging Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Soudal) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), all their faces covered in mud. This year, Colbrelli watched the race from his home in Italy, as he recovers from a near-fatal cardiac arrest at the Volta Catalunya.
Mohorič’s aggressive tactics were also partly strategic, to stay clear of chaos and crashes at the back of the race.
“I think it's still a good way to get yourself there in the final you get out of the chaos, out of the crashes,” he said. “It's a little bit less dangerous crashes-wise in the front group. I still have some other important places to go this year. So I was also thinking a little bit about this.
“Overall, I think it was fine. I had good luck, but I wasn’t lucky like Sonny was last year.”
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Peter Stuart has been editor of Cyclingnews since March 2022, overseeing editorial output across all of Cyclingnews' digital touchpoints.
Before joining Cyclingnews, Peter was the digital editor of Rouleur magazine. Starting life as a freelance feature writer, with bylines in The Times and The Telegraph, he first entered cycling journalism in 2012, joining Cyclist magazine as staff writer. Peter has a background as an international rower, representing Great Britain at Under-23 level and at the Junior Rowing World Championships.
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