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"So it'd be hard to beat him in a sprint. But in such a hard race, including with him having to use energy bridging gaps, you never know. So I was hoping he might be tired, but everyone was really at their knees along with him."

Photo: Sirotti






12.04.2015 @ 19:52 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.


"Yves Lampaert jumped perfectly and he took Van Avermaet with him," Stybar said. "It was a good situation for us. But when I saw John Degenkolb was going away, I thought then we had to do something. Then we had riders like Lars Boom and the others with me. So, for me, it was a good situation.


"I tried not to collaborate too much as my teammate was ahead, but I knew I had to make a move soon. I knew there was a little climb coming with about 2 kilometers to go, so I tried to go full gas and bridge the gap to the first group. I had already use some energy earlier in the race closing gaps, including to the Wiggins group and then these guys. Maybe I could have saved some energy if I went after the group at the same time John did, but it is what it is.


"I had to recover a bit when I joined the leaders because I was really giving everything. I couldn't attack in that moment, even if it was maybe the ideal tactic to beat John. Then Yves tried to jump, and he was very strong. But Degenkolb closed it down and we went into the velodrome together.


"Lampaert led perfectly in the velodrome. I took 2nd position going into the sprint. It was a difficult decision because I knew Degenkolb was for sure one of the fastest guys in the bunch. So it'd be hard to beat him in a sprint. But in such a hard race, including with him having to use energy bridging gaps, you never know. So I was hoping he might be tired, but everyone was really at their knees along with him. It was really down to who had anything left. He launched a very good sprint and I couldn't beat him. He was very strong and deserved the win.


"I think we have been very competitive in every race. When you look back at all the races where we were 2nd or top 3 or 4, we simply did our best every time. Of course this team is used to winning, but looking back and see how consistently strong we were with our best effort, I don't think we can complain too much.


"As for me, I am 2nd at Paris-Roubaix after being 6th and 5th. Of course in cycling I want to win. I hope to come back next year and fight for this victory, because that is what counts.


"Also I cannot forget about thanking my other teammates. They did such a great job today They weren't afraid to try an echelons or pull on the front. They sacrificed for us, without fear of blowing up from a full gas effort. For me, Stijn, Niki. So I have to thank them. They were perfect."



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