The 29 sectors of cobbles were a challenge for Team KATUSHA ALPECIN in Sunday’s 115th Paris-Roubaix, but the riders gave their heart and soul for the effort and team director Torsten Schmidt saw promise in the stellar teamwork on display in today’s Monument.
“The team was just fantastic. We said in the car we were so proud – they stuck by our plan 100% and were able to do this on the road. Racing here is like going to a casino, but their work here today will give them motivation to come back. The young guys like Mads Würtz Schmidt, Jenthe Biermans and Nils Politt did so much for our leaders Alexander Kristoff and Tony Martin. It’s nice to work with them. They are part of our future and we will continue to see them grow. And the result from Nils is very nice; I am super happy for him. I think in the next years everyone can count on us,” concluded director Torsten Schmidt. Politt was the best-placed rider for Team KATUSHA ALPECIN with 27-th at +2.24.
The 257k route from Compiègne to the velodrome finish in Roubaix was won by Greg van Avermaet of BMC after a trio of riders went clear on the final 5-star sector Carrefour de l'Arbre. Rounding out the podium were Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors) and Sebastian Langeveld of Cannondale-Drapac, all on the same time of 5:41:07. The 45.2km/h average speed was the fastest in race history, beating the record set by Peter Post in 1964.
“It was really hard. We had our two leaders in Tony and Alex and Tony was in a really good spot in the favorite group when he got a puncture, which was such bad luck for him. I gave my maximum today and at the end I had no more power, but I am happy with my result. I am still young and I feel like this is the type of race I can do well in for the future. Two years ago when I did my first Paris-Roubaix I crashed, but I said to my dad that I would come back to Roubaix and one time I hope to finish the race in the top ten,” said 23-year old Nils Politt.
An aggressive and motivated team leader Tony Martin fought hard to stay in contention throughout the race, but a puncture near sector 11 ended race hopes for the German rider.
“I was feeling really good and the team was doing such a great job. We really controlled the beginning of the race and I was always in a safe position. After my sickness in Flanders I was feeling very good and very motivated. I was in the front and got a puncture in a bad moment. After getting a new wheel I had a problem with my chain and I lost the race. I am very disappointed but the race gave me a lot of hope for next year because the team did great and we will come back,” said Tony Martin.
Photo credit © Tim De Waele
The second team leader Alexander Kristoff also had a day full of bad luck, puncturing just before the famous Trouée d'Arenberg and then having trouble negotiating a turn closer to the final.
“First I had a puncture before Arenberg, which wasn’t ideal. I used a lot of energy to come back. After that I never felt good again and up to that point I had been feeling good. But once that happened I felt like I was always on the limit. Before the race I knew I needed to have a race clear of any trouble but here I was before we even got to Arenberg with a flat tire. I did manage to come back, I even made it back with van Avermaet who ended up winning the race. At one point there was a break going away near the end and I received the information on the radio to try to bridge up. Politt pulled me to the cobbles and I was going nicely through a left turn and then it turned to a right turn at 90-degrees and suddenly my brakes weren’t working like I needed them to and I went straight. I crashed badly on my hands and then could not hold my handlebars so I had to quit. It was a pity,” said Alexander Kristoff.
“In both Gent-Wevelgem and again today we had two leaders in a good place but unfortunately there was a puncture for Tony and then Alex crashed when making a good move to a group. It’s a pity for the guys, especially today because I saw the team so active and working for our leaders. It was fantastic to see. Alex has had an up-and-down season so far and of course we have expectations from him, just as he has for himself. The season is long and we are behind him to support him to get results in his upcoming races. We know he is working hard and he did a good race until his problem in the turn. Everyone in the peloton has incidents in this race,” concluded sports director Schmidt.
Photo credit © Jojo Harper