The Belgian battled through the punctures and mud to take a strong result in brutal conditions.
A Paris-Roubaix for the ages took place Sunday afternoon – torrential rain, treacherous cobbles, and wet roads making for one of the toughest editions in history. For the first time in almost two decades, it rained at the “Hell of the North”, drenching the peloton and throwing a myriad of hurdles in the way of those vying for glory.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step were among the teams to move 50 kilometers after the start, sending Davide Ballerini and Tim Declercq in a large breakaway that enjoyed a three-minute gap over the peloton. Behind, the rest of our riders remained attentive and well-placed, at all times close to the front of a bunch that was shedding riders out the back, but soon they were hit by bad luck, with 100 kilometers to go.
Sixth at the previous editions, Florian Sénéchal had a puncture as soon as he came out of a three-star rated sector, leaving only Kasper Asgreen, Yves Lampaert and Zdenek Stybar in the main group. Asgreen and Lampaert led the way into the Arenberg, but were taken out of contention by ruthless punctures midway through the forest. Somehow, Yves managed to join the other favourites and even responded to an attack launched by Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) with 70 kilometers remaining.
Another frustrating puncture, his third of the race, dealt a big blow to the Belgian’s hopes, who then found himself in the third chasing group. Showing a fantastic attitude, gritting his teeth and determined to prove that he never gives up, the 30-year-old powered through the pain and adversities and managed to bridge across, as he kept believing despite the time gap not being in his favour. In the end, a trio that escaped from the leading group battled for victory on the Roubaix velodrome, where Yves arrived one minute later and sprinted to fifth – an incredible result considering everything he had been through.
“I had three punctures, all in crucial moments. I just rode on the crown of the cobbles, but had three punctures. Despite coming after two punctures the moment Van der Poel went, I still felt great. Coming off the Wallers, I was second in the group, but then had that third puncture. It’s disappointing, because I had very good legs and could feel that I was able to keep going, even in these hard conditions. At the end of the day, it was a phenomenal race and I’m happy with my result and that I got to experience a wet Roubaix, but next time I hope to have more luck”, Yves said after his third top 10 finish at the “Queen of the Classics”.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images