Morning of Paris Roubaix…It’s almost as if I myself was about to step out of the team bus and ride through what is known as Hell! And for sure as bike races go this is Hell! if you only win one race in your life this is the one you want on your palmares, to add insult to injury your prize at the end is one of the god forsaken cobbles, that you and your broken body have been racing over all day, the weather makes no difference it will hurt-whatever,some say for every Roubaix you compleat a year will be taken off your life.
I suffer the same nervousness as the riders, will I wake in time(four alarms set) will I make it to the ferry,will I get to the forest and finally to the velodrome, every year it’s like you are cemented in cycling history just by being there.
The Arenberg Trench looked particularly resplendent bathed in dapple sunlight, walking the length of the pave gives you a real sense of the bone shattering experience the riders face, the cobbles had claimed it’s first victim the oil sump of a car, it had deposited its contents of shiny slippery oil along the crown of the road, the solution was to randomly scatter sand over it as illustrated.
The sense of anticipation is beyond exciting, the rumble of the press cars break the silence, clouds of dust and the hum of helicopters signify the arrival of the first riders, this year the race was all over the place with the break scattered up and down the road, before the mass peloton rolled through, the quite forest is momentarily filled with noise before everyone packs up and heads to the next destination, and the Arenberg is left in peace for another year.
A mad dash to Roubaix crossing more sectors including Orchies and another where you can park on the motorway and spectate, for me it was straight to the velodrome to see the action unfold and to witness another special moment, the entry of the riders into the legendary arena.
If there is one man that deserved the win it was Niki Terpstra, you would be hard pushed to find a more humble rider in the pro peloton, for years he has lived in the shadow of Tom Boonen and Sylvain Chavannel, the countless press conferences he has attended,just sitting quietly smiling politely while Boonen is asked every ridiculous question under the sun, on the odd occasion he would be asked a question and he would reply in a polite almost shy manner… Not any more this is his time to shine after winning one of the most prestigious monuments in the calendar, and by far the biggest of his career.
I was slightly confused when Boonen and Terpstra were chasing their Omega Pharma Quickstep team mate Zdenek Stybar, who was in the front group with the hot favourite Fabian Cancellara, but obviously they had good reason, or maybe they didn’t…Possibly some tension between Boonen and Stybar. As Terpstra attacked a roar went up from the stands,from there on in he always looked the winner,with the rest of the group content to fight it out for second place.
Sprint for second John Dekenkolb (Argos Shimano) Fabian Cancellara (Trek)
Terpstra said after the race
“Paris-Roubaix was the most special race for me. Now I won it. It’s a dream come true. Paris-Roubaix is a crazy race, old fashioned, but that’s why it’s special and why I love it that much. It was really my lucky day. I think we’re going to have a nice dinner with the team tonight to celebrate this great victory, and then I will enjoy my time at home this week with my family.”