The 2022 Paris-Roubaix is clearly a day Tom Devriendt will not soon forget. His wasn’t a name on any list of contenders but with the race just 40km from the line, it was the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux rider who was holding out the front solo with the likes of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) on the chase.
The 30-year-old Belgian rider, whose previous best result in a Classic was 30th at Tour of Flanders in 2018, was caught, but he hung in with the group of Van Aert, Küng and Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) to vie for the podium in Roubaix. He may have missed the final step by one spot, but there were no expressions of disappointment after his fourth place, just sheer delight that he had delivered the team's best-ever result at a Monument.
“It was the day of my life,” said Devriendt. “A fourth place in a Monument, that's crazy! By racing in the front I made the surprising split in the beginning of the race and I stayed out of trouble when a lot of riders crashed on the first cobble sections of the day.
“When I saw the acceleration of Matej Mohoric with 100 kilometres to go I didn't hesitate to follow him. We were the strongest riders in the breakaway and it was a pity that I couldn't benefit off his work in the front anymore after he punctured. When I was leading alone I chose my own pace, knowing that I needed to save some energy for when I would be joined by the favourites.”
That happened with under 30km of racing to go.
“It was the first time that I raced for the victory in such an important classic and I really had to dig deep. I especially had a difficult moment when [race winner] Dylan van Baarle accelerated, I still had to survive two cobble sections. In the final I was living in the moment and it was only in the last kilometre that I really realised that I was racing for a top five in Paris-Roubaix."
Despite missing the podium, Devriendt was euphoric over his performance. "It's a dream come true. Yes, a podium is something else but I have to be happy with my performance, and this was the best possible result," he said. "I will never forget this."
What’s more he wasn’t the only Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux near the top of the results list, with the sixth place of his teammate Adrien Petit making the small WorldTour team the only one with two riders in the top 10. Plus there were another three in the top-20 with Alexander Kristoff 12th, Taco van der Hoorn 16th and Andrea Pasqualon 19th.
“I gave the best of myself and I'm so happy with this sixth place. My performance is part of the remarkable success of the team,” said Petit.
“I gave everything to stick with the group behind my teammate, on the velodrome I was confident because I always won sprints in chasing groups in the past. After my ninth and tenth places in previous editions it is a fantastic feeling to approach the podium - even more in this event which means so much to me.”
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Simone is a degree-qualified journalist that has accumulated decades of wide-ranging experience while working across a variety of leading media organisations. She joined Cyclingnews as a Production Editor at the start of the 2021 season and has now moved into the role of Australia Editor. Previously she worked as a freelance writer, Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg. Cycling was initially purely a leisure pursuit for Simone, who started out as a business journalist, but in 2015 her career focus also shifted to the sport.