Paris-Roubaix: A true Sunday in Hell for Team DiData

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) won the 116th edition of Paris-Roubaix, beating Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale) in a 2-man sprint on the Roubaix Velodrome. Niki Terpstra (Quickstep-Floors) came home to secure the final podium placing. 

The 116th edition of Paris-Roubaix started under blue skies today, with 257km ahead of the World Tour peloton, 54.5km on the rough cobblestone roads in northern France. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka started the cycling monument with clear intentions, to try and find the early break of the day.

Ryan Gibbons, Jaco Venter and Johann van Zyl were all part of different attacks in the opening 35km of the race before 6 riders got the jump on everyone else. Jay Thomson then set off after the 6 leaders, joined by 2 other riders as the peloton sat up behind. Thomson and co. had to work hard to bridge the minute gap to the leaders, but were able to make the junction with 200km to go, placing 9 riders in the lead group.

Thomson’s group worked well together, building a lead of just over 8’30” before the peloton picked up the pace with the first cobble sectors approaching. On the 2nd cobble sector of the day, with still over 156km remaining, there was a missive crash near the front of the peloton. Our African Team had Edvald Boasson Hagen and Nic Dougall get through the carnage okay, but our other 4 riders were all caught behind the bodies and bikes spewed across the road.

The race went ahead up the road with around 80 riders remaining in the peloton. The next pivotal moment came on sector 20, Haveluy, when another crash rocked the peloton and this time Dougall, who had been riding well all race, was unlucky to be held up with Quickstep driving the pace at the front. With the Forest of Arenberg the next sector, there was no coming back for the riders held up.

In the Forest, Thomson’s solid day out front came to an end as he was detached from 4 riders who pushed on. The peloton was reduced to just 45 odd riders through the famed cobble sector and from this point on wards, with 92km to go, the favourites began to make their moves. Boasson Hagen had his go just before sector 14, but our Norwegian was brought back with 67km to go.

The telling move came from the World Champion, Sagan, with 53km to go as he attacked alone and bridged across to the 4 early leaders. Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Soudal) and Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale) were the only 2 that could match his pace. With the difficult Mons-en-Pevel the next sector on the menu, the fight for position in the main group saw yet another crash. Once again luck was not on our African Team’s side as the crash took place right in front of Boasson Hagen.

After slamming brakes to avoid crashing, Boasson Hagen was now disappointingly out of the running too. Up the road, everyone else was also pretty much out of contention too as the World Champion kept the pressure on, with only Dillier now able to roll through with him in the lead. Spending all day in the break, Dillier had certainly put in the ride of the day, but he could not match Sagan in the final sprint on the Roubaix velodrome.

Despite the misfortune, our African Team riders fought all the way to the finish and Boasson Hagen would finish as our best placed rider, coming home in 34th place. Thomson, after his strong ride today, as well as van Zyl and Gibbons all made it through “A Sunday in Hell” to Roubaix, although Gibbons being just outside of the time limit.

Edvald Boasson Hagen – Rider
It was a hard race. I felt I was in a good position heading into all the sectors but there was one sector, where there was a crash just before. I was held up behind the crash and I was really lucky to not go down. It was a pity, I had to chase for a long time but I was never able to get back again. It didn’t work out well today so we will just have to try again next year.