Hard work on cobblestones for BAHRAIN MERIDA Team
Compiégne – Roubaix — 257 km
Roubaix, 9th April – BAHRAIN MERIDA riders worked hard today in one of the monumental cobblestone classics and one of the oldest cycling races. An unlucky flat tire and hot sun on the cobblestone road were just two factors that made today’s challenge a big one.
In a sunny morning in Compiégne, a town with famous castles and unique natural surroundings, 199 riders from 28 countries and 25 teams were gathered at the start line. Thousands of fans joined them on another festival of cycling and the biggest classic race in France. Roger De Vlaeminck in seventies and Tom Boonen in the last decade both won 4 times the Paris-Roubaix and are still holding this record. Tom Boonen had his last chance today to take the 5th victory and make a new record.
The race had 29 sections. Quiévy a Saint Python and Hornaing á Wandignies were the longest sections, each 3.7 km long, and Trouée d’Arenberg, 2.4 km long, was the hardest one.
Borut Božič, Ivan Cortina, Niccolò Bonifazio, Luka Pibernik, Meiyin Wang, David Per and Ion Ander Insausti represented BAHRAIN MERIDA Team today, all aware that a very hard and long day is ahead of them. Two days ago at the recon of the race they “scanned” all the cobblestone sections and were ready and motivated to confront this big challenge.
Just a few kilometers after the start a group of 6 riders went in a breakaway and held an approximate gap of 3 minutes along the way. After 120 km a gap to the peloton, where BAHRAIN MERIDA riders were staying together, dropped to less than a minute. Ivan Garcia, who was in two breakaways, had a tire puncture at 150th km and with that lost his chance to stay in the front of the peloton with top riders. As the race was coming closer to the finish line, our riders had to struggle more and more to keep the fast tempo and hard rhythm of such a specific race. Van Avermaet, Stybar and Langeveld were the strongest on the final cobblestones. They had strength and endurance to jump away from the leading group at the Carrefour de l’Albre cobblestones, at the entrance to Roubaix. Jasper Stuven and Gianni Moscon joined them in the final lap on the velodrome, Stybar started first with the sprint, but Van Avermaet had a better momentum and acceleration for the final meters. Another victory for the Olympic champion.
“I really wanted to be in the breakaway, which was extremely difficult,” commented Ivan Garcia Cortina after the race. “I succeeded to stay in the group, but just before Trouée d’Arenberg I had a puncture and our car had the last number today so it was impossible to catch up so late in the race. But nevertheless I love this race and I’m hardly waiting for the ones in the future.”
Tristan Hoffman, sports director added: “We tried hard in today’s exciting race for Ivan Garcia and Meiyin Wang to go to breakaways. But the peloton reached really high speed and it was hot when we got to the cobblestones. Nonetheless, we had a lot of guys in the finish with important new experience.”