CiclaValley Recaps a Wild Paris-Roubaix

Thank you laws of nature for having my daughter wake me early.

I didn’t plan on watching Paris-Roubaix early, but when CV Jr. needed a diaper change at 6AM, guess who was ready to check if his cable provider gave access to a live feed?

I came in with about 75km left in the action, but the table had been set for the rest of the race.

There was a lead group of twelve that had about a forty second advantage on the next pack, but while it didn’t include any of the top contenders, Teams Sky and LottoNL-Jumbo were very well represented, meaning they could really push the face.

The two favorites, Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara were in the following pack, but without any protection. You knew that they would have to work together at some point to bridge that gap. Strangely, the course didn’t look as muddy or dusty as normal with the rains hitting just the right time on Saturday, but conditions would still come into play.

Fate looked to take its course as Team Sky crashed not once, but twice on their own volition, but somehow didn’t lose too much of their advantage.

The race’s shape changed when Cancellera slipped and created the most amazing moment of the race when Sagan somehow leaped his bike:

Now don’t you think all those wheelies from Sagan showboating in the middle of races did him some good?

The lead group kept increasing its gap and once it seemed insurmountable, their own group began to thin.

Eventually, the leaders whittled down to four time winner, but fading star Tom Boonen, perennial contender Sep Vanmarcke, up and comer Ian Stannard, sprinter Edvald Boasson Hagen and the 37 year old who played a lot of catch up at the end, Mathew Hayman.

With 7km, everybody took turns launching attacks with a rotation of riders bridging the gaps.


For some reason, the commentators didn’t side with Boonen’s chances even with his pedigree. The Belgian made one last acceleration with about 2km left that Hayman seemed to catch before launching his own move that looked to end it all.

Somehow, Boonen gutted it out and slowly made it onto Hayman’s wheel as they entered the velodrome together for the final lap and a half.
Of course, with neither wanting to make the first move, all five riders came back together.

I had mixed feelings who I was rooting for at that point. I sentimentally was leaning towards Boonen, especially knowing he owns this sweet Ferrari:

Being rich doesn’t buy you taste….

Normally, the smart money would be on Boasson Hagen, but sprinters aren’t used to chasing down attack after attack on the back end.

Boonen held the first position until Hayman started pickin up the pace. Boasson Hagen was clearly gassed leaving Boonen as the best sprinter in the group, but he found himself trapped on the inside by Vanmarcke. A little space opened up before Boonen found himself trapped again, this time by Stannard.

There was a little space for Boonen to insert a sprint but he didn’t have enough time to close that gap:


I know I’ve seen athletes in disbelief before, but Hayman was in genuine shock with “don’t I really have a another lap to go?” face.

This was a super gutty effort for Hayman continually fighting back, but really, all the competitors emptied the tank. It just was Hayman’s day.

Of course, this was supposed to be Fabian Cancellara’s day, racing his last Paris-Roubaix in an attempt to tie the all time mark. When it came time to do his farwell lap, things didn’t go entirely as planned:


Yeah. It would be like Kobe tripping and falling into the truck of the new car the Lakers present to him at this retirement ceremony.

Paris-Roubaix was so exciting that I couldn’t help but watch the rebroadcast at noon. There were so many moments you were guessing the impact of every move. This was racing!

I’m going to have trouble calming my nerves for the next year. We’re only a month away from the Tour of California, so hopefully that’ll calm my nerves…