Paris-Roubaix: Firsthand accounts from the Tinkoff-Saxo
For the riders, Paris-Roubaix is a personal experience that leaves a big impression. And just as the race is capable of braking bones, it’s also the race that creates big careers or captures the very moment were a riders peaks. For the riders of Tinkoff-Saxo it’s no different. From the start in the fashionable town of Compiegne to the arrival in the working-class city of Roubaix, the race demands all of the riders but gives everything back upon arrival at the velodrome. Here is what they said:
– It was my first Paris-Roubaix. I wish I had chosen to do it before the age of 38, but I was really looking forward to getting in to a nice battle with the cobblestones. I was in a good position the most of the race and I was able to follow the front group until I crashed in the final. I got up very quickly but I felt that my thigh just above my knee was starting to swell up and I couldn’t pedal at full speed. So in the end, I am a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to finish in one of the front groups.
– I arrived Saturday after five days of racing in Vuelta a Pais Vasco helping Alberto as much as I could to win the GC. It was a really fast and hard race with a lot of climbs, so for me it was quit a transformation to suddenly having to adjust to a completely different terrain and way of riding. It was interesting; because I wasn’t able to follow the short and aggressive bursts on the cobble sections. But because I had been riding at a steadily high pace in the mountains in Vasco, I felt that I could just keep on riding and pedaling at a stable pace turning out a lot of watts. But I had four crashes. And for every crash you loose contact with the bunch in a race like Paris-Roubaix. So I used a lot of energy every time I had to drag myself back to the front group.
– Because Matti and Daniele got injured in Tour of Flanders, I had to step up and take a spot on the team for Roubaix. It was a pleasure to participate in the race, and now I can say that I have done Paris-Roubaix. But it was definitely not a pleasure to ride the race. I’m a climber and I don’t weigh a lot, so sometimes it felt as if the bike was heavier than me. The guys that compete in the top and for a spot on the podium are all between 70-80 kilos, and it makes riding on the cobbles a lot more stable. I had a crash just before Arenberg. A car in front of me suddenly stopped and I went down pretty hard. I kept riding, but abandoned after completing the Arenberg pavé. It’s definitely not my terrain but I’m happy that I could support my teammates.
– I was in the front group for a long time and it wasn’t until around Carrefour de l’Arbre that I lost contact. I had two crashes in the race but luckily I wasn’t hurt to badly and I was able to continue. I am satisfied with finishing 35th in my fourth Paris-Roubaix. We weren’t among the favorites today but we gave it our best and survived as a team despite the many crashes.
– Last year I finished as the last rider in my first Paris-Roubaix. This year I came in as number 73 in the better half. So it’s an improvement. Paris-Roubaix requires some years to get to know the race and the course. I went down to the baths next to the velodrome instead of taking a shower in the bus. I wanted to soak in that special Paris-Roubaix wibe. I was a bit tense before the Arenberg-sector and when we hit the open sections after the forest with a combination of cobbles and crosswinds I had to let go of the front group. It was really tough, but every one who knows just a little about cycling, knows that Paris-Roubaix is the pivotal point of the one-day races.
– It was my second time riding Paris-Roubaix. I did my best in trying to help the team as much as possible. It’s certainly not a pleasure to ride Paris-Roubaix, but as a rider you don’t always find pleasure in pleasure. I like to suffer on the bike and breathing in dust going full speed is just another ingredient that makes this race so special.
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