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106th Paris Roubaix - Team Comments & Photos Part 2
By Staff
Date: 4/15/2008
106th Paris Roubaix - Team Comments & Photos Part 2

106th Paris Roubaix - Team Comments & Photos Part 2
Team CSC, Slipstream/Chipotle, Rabobank, Barloworld, Milram - Photo Gallery

Skil/Shimano's Maarten den Bakker leading one of the bunches after the split of the peloton in the Arendberg Forest. Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

Team CSC - Cancellara
After a thriller of a race this year's edition of Paris-Roubaix came to an end with victory to Tom Boonen (Quick Step) ahead of Fabian Cancellara and Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) after a sprint finish at the velodrome in Roubaix. The trio escaped the other favorites with 34 kilometers left of the race and no one was able to catch them. Behind the three Stuart O'Grady took a great fifth place, while Matti Breschel, Marcus Ljungqvist and Allan Johansen also did well. The latter smashed his bike in a crash towards the end and had to wait two minutes for a new one so he lost his chance of a top spot.

Cancellara and Tom Boonen at the front. Hincapie and Maaskant to the right.
Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

"I think the whole team including myself did really great in this year's edition of Paris-Roubaix. Of course I'd hoped to win this one, but Tom Boonen was stronger than me once we reached the Velodrome. I tried to drop them a couple of times on the cobble stones, but when I couldn't the only thing left to do was to wait and battle it out at the Velodrome," said Cancellara after the race and continued.

"I'm not disappointed loosing to a rider of his caliber and on the whole the entire team has every reason to be proud of the spring we've had. A big thanks to my teammates, who put me in a position, where I was able to compete for the victory out there today. Everyone on the team has a share in the results we've achieved in this season so far.

"I think it was a great race and we did well both as far as tactics and strength go. We were up front like we should be and even though we didn't win today, we did our absolute best and that's all anyone can ask. During the final five kilometers Fabian Cancellara reported back to us that his entire body was cramped up and he wasn't able to attack anymore, so he had to take the duel in Roubaix. But hey, we'll try again next year," smiled team owner Bjarne Riis.

The race was opened when three riders escaped in the first break of the day. Behind them Team CSC was very visible at the front each time the peloton reached a pavé section performing an exemplary piece of team work, and during the last four or five pavé sections ahead of the Arenberg Forest Team CSC had up to five riders up front at a time in order to minimize the risk of a crash.

Steven de Jongh leading the bunch after the Arendberg Forest.
 Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

At the same time the acceleration meant that Team CSC managed to separate a group of about 30 riders already before entering Arenberg. Just before the famous and revered forest the peloton came together again, but as always it was blown to pieces in the forest and reappeared at the other side with 32 riders in a new group – five of them Team CSC riders: Allan Johansen, Matti Breschel, Stuart O'Grady, Fabian Cancellara and Marcus Ljungqvist.

This group stuck together for a while and eventually Quick Step started to take a few leads as well. About 60 kilometers before the finish line Marcus Ljungqvist left the front group behind on his own in order to get a good position approaching the pavé section up ahead, but his plan fell to pieces at the end of section 12, where he crashed. However he quickly rejoined the front group.

A significant separation about 50 kilometers before the end meant that eight riders found themselves alone at the front, among them were the previous two years' winners Stuart O'Grady and Fabian Cancellara.

Shortly before this separation last week's winner of Ronde van Vlaanderen, Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) went solo, but after a couple of kilometers Stuart O'Grady left his group and impressively enough bridged up to the Belgian rider.

The two of them were alone for six or seven kilometers, but were caught again and shortly after Cancellara, Boonen and Ballan counter attacked and dropped the other favorites. This trio was unstoppable – probably because it consisted of the three biggest favorites for the victory. Cancellara made several attempts to split the group, but with no luck and in the end he had spent all his energy and started to cramp up so he was unable to match Boonen in the sprint.

Jonathan Vaughters comments on the good results of Maaskant.
Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

Slipstream/Chipotle - Martijn Maaskant 4th
The 24-year-old Dutch rider Martijn Maaskant hung with the world’s best cyclists today to finish a fabulous 4th - and just off the podium - in his Paris-Roubaix debut. 

Martijn Maaskant - 4th in the race - and neo professional Wow what an effort!   Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

“It was very difficult; a very hard race, When Boonen attacked that was the hardest part of the race for me.”

Sticking to the front of the race as the main group gradually dwindled over the dusty pavé, Martijn made the decisive break that included Boonen, Cancellara, O’Grady and Devolder. That group split with about 20 km to go with Boonen, Ballan and Cancellara leaving the rest behind. Coming into the velodrome, Martijn attacked his chase group (O’Grady, Devolder and Hoste) to ride his final track lap solo.

Martijn’s trainer, Sports Physiologist Adrie van Diemen was thrilled with the young athlete’s performance today. “I’m so glad that Martijn managed to be in top shape for his most preferred top classic races. Flandres 12th and now Paris-Roubaix 4th,” said Adrie. “There are only a few professionals who have done this in their first year as a pro. Martijn was in top condition today and was able to make the best of each opportunity. Fantastic!”

Team Barloworld - Baden Cooke the bad luck
Paris-Roubaix could have been a great race for Team Barloworld but instead the cobbled classic ended in disappointment, with Baden Cooke lying out on the floor of the team bus, while Robert Hunter and the other riders helped him get changed as he fought the pain of a nasty crash.

Inside the velodrome Tom Boonen celebrated his second Paris-Roubaix victory, with Fabian Cancellara and Alessandro Ballan joining him on the podium. With a bit more luck Baden Cooke could also have done well, perhaps not on the podium but at least in the top ten.

Instead the tough Australian came away from Paris-Roubaix with other, more painful souvenirs. He has cuts and bruises on his calf, arm and shoulder on his left side. "I've hurt my neck and head as well," he said, showing the damage to his helmet. The crash ruined Cooke's chances after he had seemed set for a an excellent performance. He got through the important Forest of Arenberg section of pave and it was clear he could have been a contender, despite fading in the final 50km of the race as he did in the Tour of Flanders.

Patrick Calcagni prepares for the race with his soigneur. Photo © 2008 Karen Lambrecht

Team Barloworld's excellent spring campaign deserved a better ending after the victories by Enrico Gasparotto and Patrick Calcagni. Instead the final memory of the weeks spent in Belgium and France is the determination of Paolo Longo Borghini, who made it to the finish in the Roubaix velodrome despite a spectacular crash on a patch of oil.

Rob Hunter stopped at the second feed zone confirming his current level of form, while both Daryl Impey and Chris Froome impressed on the pave despite riding Paris-Roubaix for the first time.

"It's been a great experience," directeur sportif Valerio Tebaldi said. "We could have been a bit luckier but we know we've got to improve even more if we want to be competitive with the best in the world. We'll be back next year."
31. Baden Cooke (Aus) 11.08"
80. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) 16.55"

Rabobank - Bad Luck for Flecha
Juan Antonio Flecha will have to postpone the realization of his dreams in regards to Paris-Roubaix for at least one more year. The Rabo-captain completely missed the boat because of a crash shortly before the most difficult cobbled stone road through the forest of Wallers. The Spaniard had used up such an amount of energy after his successful pursuit of the top-class riders that he had to pass during the first initiated attacks in the finale. It then still looked like Sébastian Langeveld would be able to protect his position among the best, but he slid into a ditch during the very first serious breakaway attempt in the decisive part of the race. Tom Boonen was less unfortunate and he simply was the best of them all.

Juan Antonio Flecha trying to come back in the bunch after a crash.
Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

Fortunately, the crashes of Flecha and Langeveld did not result in any serious injuries, even though one must wait and see how Sébastian Langeveld will recover from his bruises in the upcoming days, particularly with a view to the Amstel Gold Race. But, things are already bad enough as they are for the Rabo ProTeam, because the team had traveled to the North of France in a mood of hope based on the world-class condition of its captains. Flecha also made an extremely strong impression with his pursuit of the top-class riders after his crash, but the ounces of energy that he had wasted were supposed to be utilized in the finale. Additionally, Sébastian Langeveld again convinced most of his followers with an alert and offensive style of riding.

It seemed as if Langeveld and three others would start off the true battle with an attack on one of the cobbled stone roads at fifty kilometers from the finish. Quickly, however, he crashed in a curve and ended up in a ditch. Langeveld immediately lost a minute and a half because his bike was wrecked. Hence, the opportunities for a good classification evaporated. The latter scenario was also in the making for Juan Antonio Flecha. After his crash, he had to close a gap of a minute and a half vis-à-vis the world-class riders who by then had seriously picked up the pace. "If you can cause a potential winner like Flecha to fall behind, then some teams will be willing to put an extra man in the front to pick up the tempo," observed Rabo-team leader Adri van Houwelingen.

Joost Posthuma shortly supported Flecha in the pursuit, while Tom Leezer was able to offer him some more assistance a little bit after that, but that was it. Riders from other teams, who had been overtaken by the Spaniard during his hunt down, were not willing to step on the pedals. Adri van Houwelingen then saw an impressive Flecha. "He had to battle for 35 kilometers, while in the meantime they were not sitting still in the front. But, in this race you can only reload your gun once. When push came to shove, he was simply exhausted. But we already knew this the moment he fell and when they really started to run amuck in the front."

Low morale
The morale of the Spaniard shortly hit rock bottom after the end of the race. "We came here with the best intentions. If you miss out on your opportunities simply because the other riders are better then that makes it easier to digest than when a race unfolds like this," knew Van Houwelingen. "Flecha was very good today. I am sure that he would have been with the best-eight in the finale and even among the best-three. It is a different story when you want to beat Boonen, because he really was very good." The Spaniard in the end finished twelfth, at more than five minutes.

Sébastian Langeveld was the only Raborider to drop out of the race at fifteen kilometers from the finish line. "He really could not compete anymore. Sebas had crashed hard. It was courageous that he wanted to continue on and that eventually he even ended up in the second group behind the three race-leaders. However, the damage sustained turned out to be far worse than we thought after the crash. He really suffered some wounds and bruises during the crash. We are going to have to wait and see how this situation develops."

The third chase group finishes at 7 minutes - Gerolsteiners's Sven Krauss takes the inside line to take 18th place. Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

Team Milram
Grabsch 26th by Boonen win in Roubaix

 The best MILRAM riders were Ralf Grabsch and Markus Eichler, who came in 26th and 30th, respectively, with a large following group. "I was good today, but not good enough. Pozzato's crash held me up, and I used up a lot of strength getting back to the peloton. Unfortunately that was when the group with Boonen took off. I kept on fighting and felt good, but didn't have a chance,“ said a slightly frustrated Ralf Grabsch, who last year finished 15h by the race in the north of France.

Hard race started as planned
"I had bad legs at the beginning, but it got better with every kilometer. In the end it was good that I was with Ralf in case he had a puncture, which he fortunately didn't have. I am satisfied with my first Paris-Roubaix, even though I know I will still feel it in my legs tomorrow,“ said Markus Eichler, satisfied with his debut in the race. On the other hand, Christian Knees was not so satisfied. „That was a very hard race today. I felt well and at the beginning of the race kept trying to get into an escape group. Unfortunately it didn't work out. It just wasn't our luckiest day.“

"The first half of the race went as planned. Unfortunately we had some bad luck in the Arenberg Forest, when there was a crash directly in front of Niki, which caused him to lose contact with the peloton. And then Ralf was held up by Filippo Pozzato's crash. That was it for our hopes for a top finish. But I am still satisfied with our aggressive performance,“ is how Gerry van Gerwen, General Manager for Team MILRAM, summed up the day.

The race. run in dry weather over a total of 38 cobblestone sections totalling 52 km was at first dominated by a three-man breakaway group. Matthe Pronk (Collstrop), Jan Kuyckx (Landbouwkrediet) and Alexander Serov (Tinkoff) were swallowed up by a 30-man strong field with about 50 km to go. From there on riders kept trying to get away. Finally Tom Boonen forced the tempo and made the break, and only Ballan and Cancellara could follow him.

26. Ralf Grabsch (GER) Team MILRAM
30. Markus Eichler (GER) Team MILRAM
62. Christian Knees (GER) Team MILRAM
72. Martin Müller (GER) Team MILRAM

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