Monday, April 8, 2013

Cancellara Wins His Third Paris-Roubaix

 Two-man sprint decides the race on the velodrome

Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) pulled off a thrilling performance to win the 2013 Paris-Roubaix in a dramatic sprint finish with Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco). Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma QuickStep) sealed the final place on the podium.

Cancellara and Vanmarcke pulled clear on the Carrefour de l'Arbre pave when Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma QuickStep) and then his teammate Zdenek Stybar crashed into spectators. But for one last ditch attack from Cancellara in the closing five kilometres, the leading duo shared the pace setting all the way to the Roubaix velodrome.

Vanmarcke led out, but Cancellara simply had more in the tank and had enough to win his third Roubaix title and his second Flanders and Roubaix double of his career.

“I was in another world of riding! I still don’t know how I did it. I was dropped and pretty far back but then I started to move up. This is a race you can never give up on until the end. I had to play with him in the end because I tried to go away but he followed so then I knew it was man against man. I’m happy for the team and for me. Now I look forward to rest and a holiday. Mission accomplished,” Cancellara said.

The foundations for Cancellara's win were built on solid work from his teammates, who controlled the race in the opening 200 kilometres, never allowing a break to gain more than two minutes and then shepherding their leader towards the front on the Auchy-lez-Orchies - Bersée sector of pave.
It was clear from as early as last weekend's Flanders triumph that Cancellara would be the marked man, but he took the race by the scruff of the neck and although his surge forward in Orchies didn't win him the race, it drew out his main challengers. Thor Hushovd, Taylor Phinney and Edvald Boasson Hagen were the first to fall by the wayside but those that remained played their cards, and allowed Cancellara both a brief respite and opportunity to see would match him.

By the end of the 11th sector, only Cancellara, the Omega Pharma-Quickstep trio Nikki Terpstra, Zdenek Stybar and Vandenbergh, Europcar duo Sébastien Turgot, Damien Gaudin, Blanco duo Sep Vanmarcke and Lars Boom and also Sebastiaan Langeveld, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Bernard Eisel (Sky), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Luca Paolini (Katusha) remained in contention.

In front, Langeveld and Vanmarcke anticipated the next pavé stretch where Vandenbergh and Gaudin impressed as they rode away from the rest of the group. Behind the four leaders, a poker game unfolded. The result was that four more riders rode away from the Cancellara group. When exiting sector 7, the eight leaders were Langeveld, Vanmarcke, Gaudin, Vandenbergh, Stybar, Van Avermaet, Flecha and Paolini.

On the roads towards sector 6, Cancellara closed to the eight leaders on his own, by far his most impressive feat in the race. Having dropped back to his team car and dragging Boom, Terpstra and Eisel with him, he quickly realised he had isolated three major threats. Within a flash, he had left them for dust and was soon back with the Flecha group.

Meanwhile Vandenbergh and Vanmarcke didn't wait for Spartacus and snuck off the front. When reaching sector 6, Cancellara and also Terpstra joined the chase group, half a minute behind the two Belgian leaders. On the same section where Cancellara crashed during the reconnaissance, the second part of sector 6, the cobbles of Bourghelles à Wannehain, the Swiss rider accelerated. Only Stybar was able to keep up with Spartacus.

While Cancellara time trialed towards the two leaders on the wide roads after the cobbles, Stybar tried to hold his wheel. Just before reaching sectors 5 and 4 there were four leaders in the race: Cancellara, Vanmarcke and teammates Vandenbergh and Stybar. Chasers Flecha, Langeveld, Terpstra, Van Avermaet and Gaudin were half a minute down on the leaders. A large group with Boom, Eisel, Paolini, Kristoff, Leukemans and others were further behind.

Vandenbergh was already losing contact on the cobbles of the Carrefour de l'Arbre when he clipped a spectator and fell in the early phase of the sector, leaving Stybar with the difficult job of marking both Cancellara and Vanmarcke.

The former cyclo-cross star looked comfortable on the cobbles though, but when he also rode into a fan, there was no way back.

Bright skies for Compiègne start

In contrast to the massive crowds in Bruges last week, the start in Compiègne was much more low-key. Teams were still rolling in toward the Place Charles de Gaulle in front of the Compiègne castle less than an hour before the start of the race. While temperatures dived under freezing point early in the morning, the sun did enough to persuade riders to wear short-sleeved kits once the race got underway at 10:20 am.

The pace was high right from the start with many teams trying to get a rider in the breakaway group. Thirteen riders managed to get a gap after 17km of racing, but the sizeable group didn't receive the ok from the peloton. The outcome was a blistering fast first hour of racing, averaging just under 50km per hour. The group was caught, and several more attempts fell short.

Upon hitting the first pavé sectors after 100km of racing, the peloton was back together. On the second cobbled stretch of the day, there was a crash which quickly reduced the peloton and hindered men like Stijn Devolder and Ian Stannard. In front, four riders finally managed to get away. Former winner Stuart O'Grady (Orica-Greenedge) was joined by Gert Steegmans (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Matthew Hayman (Sky) and Clément Koretzky (Bretagne-Seche Environnement). The four got away in sector 22, at 124km from the finish. Behind them, André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) tried to bridge up but the German sprinter fell short. At the back of the peloton, Yoann Offredo (FDJ) crashed out of the race when he didn't notice a traffic island.

The four leaders built up a lead of more than two minutes over the peloton where Team Saxo-Tinkoff set the pace for their leader Matti Breschel when heading towards the famous Wallers-Arenberg forest. Steegmans led the breakaway into the Trouée Arenberg with a gap of 1:30 on the peloton. Thanks to the efforts from Taylor Phinney (BMC), John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) and Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) that gap was brought down to 40 seconds once out of the 2400m long pavé sector. In contrast to previous years, there were barely no crashes in this zone.

The four leaders struggled to hold off the peloton which at sector 17 closed in to touching distance. Nevertheless they reached sector 16 with a 30-second bonus. At that point Steegmans and Hayman left their companions behind. At the same time, Michael Schär (BMC) launched a solo move to join the leaders. In the peloton, outsiders like Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida), Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ) and Geraint Thomas (Sky) were affected by a crash while BMC's leader Thor Hushovd (BMC) flatted.

After 185km of racing and with 69km left to cover, the riders reached the second feed zone. The duo forced Schär to work hard and long but 20km after his initial acceleration, he finally joined the two leaders. A little later, Damien Gaudin (Europcar) bridged up with the leaders, who were riding only half a minute ahead of the reduced peloton.

Sector 11 was the first one where Cancellara moved to the front and from there the pace never dropped. By the time the race reached sector 10, the famous Mons-en-Pévèle the leaders were caught.

Former Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp) flatted while his compatriot Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) impressed in front. No more than 13 riders survived the selection of this sector. They were top favourite Cancellara, Terpstra, Stybar, Vandenbergh, Turgot, Gaudin, Vanmarcke, Boom, Langeveld, Van Avermaet, Eisel, Flecha and Paolini. A little later, Turgot dropped out of the lead group with a flat tyre and Cancellara moved into position.

“It’s amazing having a third victory. When I see how in this race everyone was against our team, against me, I just had to do a selection. The team came into a little bit of difficulty because we lost a few guys because of bad luck. But that’s Roubaix. It’s always nice to win alone but today there was pure fighting until the very end. I could not believe it when I crossed the finish line. My legs and my head wanted to bring me here,” Cancellara said.

Article By: Cycling News

No comments:

Post a Comment