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"I don't know if it is disappointing. I'd consider it maybe bittersweet. I worked hard for a lot of kilometers today. I chased the original breakaway, and then I pulled before the feed zone to form an echelon."

Photo: Etixx-QuickStep/BettiniPhoto©2015

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12.04.2015 @ 19:55 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Etixx - Quick-Step rider Zdenek Stybar finished 2nd in a seven-rider velodrome sprint at 253km Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, as he was led into the velodrome by teammate Yves Lampaert, but John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) was able to come around Stybar on the front for the victory. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) was 3rd.

 

Lampaert, after attacking with 12.1km to go and taking Van Avermaet with him, finished 7th. Van Avermaet and Lampaert were joined by Degenkolb with 5.7km to go in the race out of a small group behind at about 10 seconds. Then it was Stybar's turn to bridge and he did so before the group reached the velodrome. Lars Boom (Astana), Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) were all able to close the gap by the time the sprint was launched.

 

Etixx - Quick-Step also had Niki Terpstra in a group behind, as the 2014 winner was present in a group of strong contenders including Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Sir Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), and others. The group was attacking non-stop, but could not get any true separation before Lampaert accelerated.

 

Etixx - Quick-Step rider Stijn Vandenbergh also attempted a solo attack with 44.7km to go, and he was eventually joined by Wiggins, Stybar, and Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal) before that group was reabsorbed with a little more than 25km remaining. 

 

Six riders of the team helped push the pace and split up the peloton when echelons formed earlier in the race, including Guillaume Van Keirsbulck — who did an outstanding job on the front for much of the day — and Matteo Trentin. Iljo Keisse and Nikolas Maes also worked hard on the front in the earlier kilometers.

 

Stybar's 2nd place follows up 6th and 5th place finishes in previous editions. Lampaert joined Etixx - Quick-Step for the 2015 season.

 

"In just my 2nd Paris-Roubaix participation I am in the top 10 of the race," Lampaert said. "That is really encouraging for me. As for the team, We were really strong today as a collective. We rode really full gas and we made the race hard starting from 90 kilometers to go in the feed zone. Then I was able to recover a bit.

 

"The race split up again and I wasn't in the first group until the Carrefour de l'arbre. A little bit after that we came into a small village and I attacked. The attack was instinctive, not planned. I got the feeling in the right moment and I went. I quickly got a gap, and then Van Avermaet followed me, so I was quite sure we would stay in front.

 

"But when I heard Degenkolb was coming, and he came really fast, I knew it would be difficult to win. But I didn't ride in front because Styby was coming. Then he arrived, and at 1.5km to go I tried an attack. But Degenkolb was strong and he closed the gap immediately. Then I led the sprint out for Styby, and he was 2nd.

 

"I don't know if it is disappointing. I'd consider it maybe bittersweet. I worked hard for a lot of kilometers today. I chased the original breakaway, and then I pulled before the feed zone to form an echelon, and then of course I chased back to the first group and attacked before the finale.

 

"I'd consider this my best Classics race ever. It was a strange feeling to arrive in the velodrome. To arrive at the front in a race like this isn't easy and it is such a prestigious finish in the stadium like that. I have to be happy considering where I finished, and how hard I worked to get into the top 10 today, as a Belgian rider in Paris-Roubaix."

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