By Brecht Decaluwé in Roubaix
Throughout the season World champion Erwin Vervecken has hardly shown the kind of form worthy of a man with three separate rainbow jerseys, barely managing to pull off podium finishes after a handful of early season wins. Things were quite different in Roubaix, however, for the 35 year-old Belgian.
On the legendary track where Stuart O'Grady captured a monumental victory in April 2007, Vervecken has a good record. "I've never lost over here," Vervecken claimed. "I've won the MTB stage that finished on the vélodrome. I've won this race in 2006 and in 2007 they didn't want to give me the victory."
Vervecken clearly hasn't forgotten about the tight finish with Gerben De Knegt last year. After a millimetre sprint, the jury decided that De Knegt was the winner, much to the disbelief of Vervecken. That disappointment drove Vervecken on Saturday. "It doesn't happen too often that I arrive alone at the finish, but I didn't want to take a risk over here; it's a tricky finish," Vervecken said to Cyclingnews after the race. "I was rather comfortable for the first half of the race, and from then on I told myself to watch out because some riders had crashed, like Page and Simunek. I pulled hard and was on my own with two laps to go."
With the penultimate World Cup race of the season Sunday in Liévin, Vervecken risked losing energy he'll need by being so aggressive in Roubaix. His compatriots mostly stayed away; top contenders like French champion Francis Mourey, Sven Nys, Bart Wellens and Lars Boom didn't even race in Roubaix. "True, but on the other hand I realized that I have to give this jersey away in two weeks, and today I could win a race while wearing it," Vervecken said. "Today, I could add lustre to the world champion's jersey and that it something I could barely do this season."
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Roubaix race.
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