The Moment The Race Was Won: Paris-Roubaix

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Cancellara Vanmarcke Roubaix

Paris Roubaix is a race. It’s good to remember this because everyone had Fabian Cancellara as their favourite before the race and after the race everyone saw him holding the winner’s trophy. If you’d missed what happened in between it would possible to shrug and accept that the obvious result occurred, a victory for logic as much as for Cancellara.

Only the 254km race was so good that the result wasn’t known until the final three seconds when Cancellara came out of Sep Vanmarcke’s slipstream on final straight of the Roubaix velodrome to pass the Belgian and lift his arms in celebration. This was the moment the race was won.

Yet again the race started with cold conditions but for once without any snow. An early move went with 13 riders and both Radioshack and Omega Pharma-Quickstep placed a rider inside, leaving Cofidis and NetApp-Endura to chase. The big move only held a small lead as they covered 49.9km in the first hour. Onwards and they did 45km in the second.

A succession of moves saw Stuart O’Grady (Orica-Greenedge), Matthew Hayman (Sky), Gert Steegmans (OPQS) and Clement Koretzky (Bretagne-Séché) head into the Arenberg forest with a lead of 1.30 but by the end of this sector their advantage was down by a minute, proof of the power behind with BMC’s Taylor Phinney leading the charge whilst Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas was spotted on the side of the road.

It was after the Arenberg forest that the constant moves began. Our lead four were almost caught as Blanco’s Robert Wagner did a big ring cycle to close them down but the gap wasn’t closed. The excitement over, Radioshack took up the tempo, easing the pace enough to let the gap go back up, in part because Steegmans and Hayman drove on together.

BMC, OPQS and Sky lead
At this point BMC Racing’s Michael Schär was bridging across to the leaders and it looked like the top teams had a plan. BMC, OPQS and Sky each had a man up the road with Radioshack forced to work, the perfect scenario for the big teams. Little did they know it would come to nothing but such is racing. The bunch didn’t want to let anyone go, even the forceful Damien Gaudin got reeled in, his pedalling style reminiscent of a worker with a shovel.

Spartacus uprising
Fabian Cancellara accelerated hard on the Auchy cobbled sector. It looked good because he was lighting up the race but once the dust cleared we saw he’d dropped most of his team mates and he was now isolated. Fate also claimed Jurgen Roelandts, surely this season’s most regular puncture victim?

The selection
It was on the next sector, the five star 3km long Mons-en-Pévèle cobbles that the main selection happened, a group of 13 riders were towed away by the OPQS tandem of Stijn Vandenbergh and Niki Terpstra. The group included Cancellara and immediately his presence was taken as a threat with riders trying to escape up the road and others forming a queue for his slipstream behind. With more moves the 13 saw four men up the road, this became eight and then Cancellara came across solo, closing the gap like he was a motorbike in the race convoy. Did word get out that he was coming? At this point Stijn Vandenbergh (OPQS) and Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco) took off together.

The Belgian duo were riding well together although Vandenbergh was slugging a big gear. As they crossed the Bourghelles à Wannehain pavé Vanmarcke looked comfortable. Behind Cancellara went for it and only Zdenek Stybar (OPQS) could hold his wheel. With Vandenbergh up the road Stybar was glued as tightly to Cancellara’s real wheel as the Radioshack rider’s FMB tyre. With 20km to go Cancellara caught the lead two with Stybar to form a group of four, by now clear ahead and meriting most of the TV airtime because the chasers were far behind.

OPQS Czech-mate
On to the Carrefour de l’Arbre cobbles where legend says he who leads wins. Vandenbergh was quickly detached, he looked tired and wobbled into a spectator, crashing hard. The fan was clearly leaning into the road but Vandenbergh was taking risks trying to ride so close to the side of the road. A similar fate then struck Stybar only this time the spectator looked more to blame, even if once again riders can avoid the risks by taking the crown of the cobbles. Suddenly OPQS had gone from half the front group to nothing and Stybar must have been more than a cross rider.

Sep Man-mark
Cancellara and Vanmarcke rolled on with the Belgian taking turns on the cobbles as if to say he could match any moves. The two drove on and shared the work, building up a lead of over a minute. With 4km to go Cancellara launched a serious attack but Vanmarcke was ready and plunged into his slipstream to close him down. The two kept riding, arguably Vanmarcke could have sat back saying “you attacked, you broke the rhythm” and playing on Cancellara’s fear of being outsprinted. But the Belgian was generous and they kept going, in fact Vanmarcke tried a small jump with around 2km to go.

Swiss banking
The pair arrived into the velodrome after 253km, a cute warm up for a track sprint. For the first time all day the race slowed as the pair almost came to a stop on the track. Cancellara’s banking skills allowed him to put Vanmarcke into the lead. The Belgian looked at ease on the track, taking a good line and watching his rival with more alertness than you’d expect given the accumulated fatigue.

As they went round the final bend Vanmarcke launched the sprint and for once in his life Cancellara was being towed to the finish line. Vanmarcke was fast even if his line was getting ragged and Cancellara came past to offer a victory salute on the line.

Cancellara Roubaix win

The Verdict
A great race. If Milan-Sanremo brought excitement over the Poggio and into Sanremo, here saw the uncertainty and drama last for hours. There can be a guilty feeling watching a race like this with its monstrous cobbles, seeing riders felled by road signs or going head first into the ditch all in the name of sport and entertainment.

Yes the favourite rider won but despite whole teams calculating their tactics on him, the longer the race went on, the less likely his win became. At first outnumbered by other teams, then heavily marked in a group, he was even sitting up. This was wheeled poker. Even as the sprint duel with Vanmarcke came closer Cancellara looked like an underdog, remember he’d outplayed Tom Boonen for the 2012 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Niki Terpstra saved the day for OPQS with third place, you wonder what could have happened if Stybar had not been stymied. The media will probably ask question Team Sky and BMC who once again miss out but perhaps any interrogations need to be seen across the classics because this one race is a random event. Note Radioshack had trouble too with Stijn Devolder dropped and Cancellara’s acceleration on the cobbles got ride of his own team mates. But this made the race so much better than last week’s the Tour of Flanders as we treated to many attacks and an ever-changing scenario.

Vanmarcke finished the race in tears. He’d crashed and punctured earlier in the day, but salvaged his classics campaign after recovering from injury in Tirreno-Adriatico. The only time Cancellara fell today is when he tried to get off his bike but exhaustion got the better of him.

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{ 77 comments }

Anonymous April 7, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Best race coverage out there.

Steppings April 7, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Fascinating race and in relatively good conditions. I must admit at around the 32km tp go mark when Fabio went to his team car I thought his day was up, his body language was so relaxed it looked like he was saying “Its not my year” To let 2 groups go up the road it seemed we were in for a new winner. Chapeau Fabio! I think he put EVERYTHING into winning that.

Cross Rob April 7, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Good report but I think the race was won/lost when Stybar took a camera in the face. Cancellara was running out of options and couldn’t have risked leaving it to a final sprint. As you say though, riding up the sides is a risky business.

Sala April 7, 2013 at 7:31 pm

I’ve been reading your articles for a while, and I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your post-race analyses. It’s amazing how quickly you get them up online! Thanks for keeping up the great work.

Dave R April 7, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Lot of suspense today: happy to see Stybar on the sharp end but very disappointed to watch him get knocked out of the lead group. Fabian looked more or less human, and this is what made this race interesting…he emptied it!

Martijn April 7, 2013 at 7:45 pm

When basically nothing happened in the Arenberg forest, I was afraid this Paris-Roubaix would be as boring as De Ronde. Fortunately things got better quickly.

Although Vandenbergh’s coordination was suffering from his tiredness, it seemed to me that the spectator he collided with was the only one not stepping back quickly enough. If I were Lefevre I would be furious about what happened and demand barriers along Mons-en-Pévèle and Carrefour l’Arbre in the next editions. Someone also dropped a French flag on one of the cobble stones sections. Fortunately it didn’t get entangled in any wheels.

The Inner Ring April 7, 2013 at 8:23 pm

I thought the same at one point, we had a large group and it was all going to plan for Cancellara as his team mates set the tempo. But as you say, it changed and we ended up with many attacks and uncertainty.

We’ll always wonder what Stybar could have done. But he’s done well, I wasn’t sure how he could cope with long races and tactics and he’s now one for the future.

Mats April 7, 2013 at 7:53 pm

If only Stybar had been able to follow the leading duo up to the velodrome… Stybar could follow Fabian’s wheel when all other big money star figures were dropped immediately when the race really took off. He is a future star. Vanmarcke did a fabulous race and in my mind he could very well be a future winner. What a race. Cycling at its best.

Nick April 7, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Totally agree. I’m as impressed by Stybar (and clearly his cx skills showed in being able to keep his bike upright) and Vanmarcke as by Cancellara. Would have been even more fascinating if they’d come into the finish as a three person group.

Austin CX April 7, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Thanks for the post race coverage, a really good read.
It was great to see Cancellera win; I would like to know what was racing through Vanmarcke’s mind towards the end though, being on the cusp of what would have been the greatest win of his career. It really looked like Sep was holding back the tears on the podium, I dont know though if it was becasue he lost to first, or because he finished an amazing second in Paris Roubaix.

The Inner Ring April 7, 2013 at 8:25 pm

He was crying a lot for the TV interviews. He’d crashed and punctured in the race but he fell in Tirreno-Adriatico race in March. A knee injury meant rest and he was struggling to regain form, he got it but just in time. A stressful month but he looked so ease on the cobbles that his time will come.

DS April 7, 2013 at 8:35 pm

It was a great race. Thanks for the great coverage and analysis Inrng.

(But I must say that I don’t understand the French!!! Why did they wrote “I LOVE ROUBAIX” in english???
Why not proudly use their language, french, “J’AIME ROUBAIX”, or just use the heart sign. Is this a initiative from the Nord-Pas-De-Calais administrators, or is it ASO ??
Anyway, I just don’t get the French and their unnecessary oversuse of the english language. It is, to say the least, puzzling. English is everywhere in France, it’s scary and terrible. Talk about prostitution…
Sorry for my rant.)

!!! Vive Spartacus !!!

Korianteri April 7, 2013 at 10:03 pm

The French overuse of the English language in a cycling context? Surely that must be a joke — have you watched any French pro cycling races lately? I think it’s pretty arrogant to have all the texts in the international TV coverage be in French. At least the Belgians were decent enough to have stuff like “Head of the race” translated to the real lingua franca last weekend. Cool to actually know what the labels say.

Not French April 8, 2013 at 5:49 pm

The graphics are hardly Marcel Proust—I find it difficult to believe anyone would not be able to understand what they meant even if they had no knowledge of French after more than five minutes or so of viewing; less if you speak English as most of the words are used in this language anyway. I love how cycle races all have different graphics and languages for the different races and long may it continue. I was disappointed last year when the Tour of Poland coverage had the Polish-language captions changed after the first couple of stages. I can’t speak Polish but, again, it’s not exactly difficult to work out which one of the three possible captions that could come up (breakaway, chase group or peloton) is which and it adds to the atmosphere for me.

The Inner Ring April 7, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Maybe they wanted to say hello to a worldwide audience?

If you put it in French it might leave the French confused. It’s not a place liked by many. As I tried to explore the context of the race earlier during the week I looked at the local newspaper. Gunfights, arson, murders, drug dealing were all amongst the top stories in the Roubaix section of the La Voix du Nord local newspaper. A tough place.

inopinatus April 9, 2013 at 11:23 pm

How do you know that the writer was French?

JBS April 7, 2013 at 8:36 pm

I understand the Spring Classics are a different animal from the big stage races in the summer, but is there no basic rule of decorum that says Cancellara and Vanmarcke should have sat up a bit to allow Stybar to regroup after being punched in the face by a spectator?

The Inner Ring April 7, 2013 at 8:45 pm

They didn’t cause it and they probably didn’t see what happened. In a race like this waiting for others is rare.

bob April 8, 2013 at 12:51 am

All’s fair in the classics. There isn’t a rider in the peloton who can’t tell their own bad-luck story in Roubaix or Flanders. There are no “unwritten rules”, except to win the race at whatever cost.

Duluth Baptist Clydesale April 8, 2013 at 4:24 am

This is kind of a different case; GC battles in Grand Tours feature competition over a number of stages, and time differences are meant to be “earned.” Waits in those situations are kind of in a vacuum; you might wind up in a different spot than everybody else, but the GC battle remains static. A single race has different dynamics–it’s just one day, and if you wait for one guy, you might find yourself rejoined by a half-dozen others who don’t deserve to be in the leading group.

Bosko April 7, 2013 at 8:42 pm

@DS Even worse in other countries sir, so I think you’re fighting a lost balle ;-)

Great race. Roubaix remains a mixture of luck and quality, as Hushovd, Roelandts, Thomas, Ladagnous, Chavanel, v Summeren and many other top 10 candidates missed out on getting a result due to bad luck

This wasn’t the best possible Cancellara but happy for him after last years bad luck

Jarvis April 8, 2013 at 9:43 am

Wasn’t the best possible Cancellara? Are you on drugs? That was possibly his best win, he showed that he can use tactics to his advantage and played poker more than once using his strength and power to his advantage.

I’m not a huge Cancellara fan, but I thought he was brilliant in this race

The Inner Ring April 8, 2013 at 9:51 am

Easy, it was a race where for once Cancellara couldn’t ride away, so different from his last win when he rode solo for the last 50km. I still think it was impressive and he had to play his cards but it was a very different kind of win and some rate this differently.

SEA_janetrain April 7, 2013 at 9:16 pm

“Blanco’s Robert Wagner did a big ring cycle” bwahahaha- FINALLY an opera joke in a cycling column. Chapeau!

lucky April 7, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Pretty sure ‘Nibelungo’ was one of Ullrich’s codenames in Puerto too, heh.

Tom April 7, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Chapeau, Sep!

The kid continues to show great panache. Instead of sucking wheel to the line (unlike a certain Australian at MSR last year), he duked it out mano-a-mano with a great champion. Sep is a winner in my book.

maximflyer April 7, 2013 at 10:16 pm

Actually, I don’t understand why Sep took so many turns, when he could rely on his superior sprint. I don’t think it was a smart idea. He could have won it in my opinion. I was disappointed.

The Inner Ring April 7, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Also he put in a small attack with about 2km to go. But both were cramping up alot, I joked above about this being a track sprint but it was decided by cramp and more. Normally Vanmarcke has a faster sprint but he was so tired by the end of the race.

STS April 8, 2013 at 1:00 am

So you’re disappointed if someone does what true sportsmen do? Vanmarcke believed in his chance to win the race. And he felt as strong as his rival. So he surely did not want to sit on Cancellara’s wheel, only to come around him in the last meters and get criticised for being a wheel-sucker for the rest of the season.
He wanted to win in a way that left no doubts. And that’s why it was such a special duel. Obviously the two strongest men in the race were the last men standing in that finale and they fought it out like real sportsmen. Cancellara could not have asked for a better, a stronger and a more fair rival. Vanmarcke made him give everything he had and you could see when Cancellara shook his hand before climbing onto the podium that he’s really grateful for Vanmarcke adhering to the same codes of sportsmanship that Cancellara so strongly believes in.
Vanmarcke’s time in this race will come since he’s obviously made for it. In fact his time has already begun. Hopefully he will stay true to the way he raced today and earn a win that he can be even more proud of than what he did today.

Ben April 8, 2013 at 2:57 am

Actually, I felt that Vanmarcke was taking pulls as a show of force. His pulls, at least in my view, appeared to be shorter than Cancellara’s, and his body language deteriorated significantly when he was riding behind. To me, it felt like Vanmarcke was trying to give Cancellara the impression that he was still strong, so Cancellara would be hesitant to attack. In that way, he was able to keep Cancellara with him. Both riders were obviously fatigued, and it Cancellara was less likely waste energy on an attack that he felt might fail. It seemed to have worked as Cancellara only put in one attack near the end of the race and when it failed he did not try another.

Other than launching his sprint a little early, I felt the Vanmarcke played that race about as perfectly as he could have.

Peter April 8, 2013 at 6:51 am

I’d be interested to know what was said between Cancellara and Vanmarcke after Cancellara’s attack with about 4kms to go. They seemed to have quite a conversation, and Vanmarcke was cooperative at the front after that. Was a deal done??

Nick April 8, 2013 at 9:08 am

Until we hear from Mr. Vanmarcke we need to recognize all of our comments about why he did what he did are just speculation. I’ll crack up if he asked about this in an interview and he says something like, “Uh, I guess I just didn’t think about it.”

maximflyer April 8, 2013 at 10:02 am

I don’t think sportsmanship is about playing along a line which is more suitable for your opponent. If you look at the other way around: Cancellara will never be labeled as unsportsmanlike for powering away (just like in the 2010 edition) and not giving his opponents a chance for field sprint.
Perhaps, you’re right that Sep was so sure of his sprint…
And I should forget about disappointment, because it was a thrilling finale.

rico April 8, 2013 at 2:25 am

that australian, however, won the race. not sure if you are saying it is better to take a pull and lose, than suck a wheel and win — but I personally will always take the top step

Tom April 8, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Johan Bruyneel would agree with you.

Bill Ward April 7, 2013 at 10:27 pm

It appeared Fab maybe wasn’t running at 100% but he showed immense control and judgement when smashing back to the front after that little faux / real sit up and car DS chat. Pleasure to watch. It might be that I thought he’d win but he did seem extremely confident going into the velodrome, maybe the run into Roubaix and his little attack had given him enough to make the call on risking the track sprint? I love the motorbike links too, it’s my favourite comedy conspiracy!

Redeye April 7, 2013 at 10:58 pm

Great race and worthy winner. I’ve watched Cancellara win a lot of races, but never seen him have to empty the tank quite that much. Given his crashes in the week, that he was the most marked man in the race and that he did all of the work at the sharp end of the race without any team mates, it was a mighty impressive victory – in many ways more so than Flanders last week. His nonchalance at letting a couple of groups go up the road while he chatted to the team car was staggering.

Great deal of sympathy for Stybar – his acceleration to go with Cancellara was awesome and it was a real shame for him not to get a crack at the business end of the race. I’m pretty sure him and Vanmarcke will get more chances though as you don’t end up in the final 3 of a race that was ridden that fast by accident.

Looking forward to the rest of the classics now.

Stabilisers April 7, 2013 at 11:27 pm

First time I’ve ever watched that race. Incredible. You’ve summed it up very nicely.

Vera April 7, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Another chapter in the Book of Spartacus. Thanks as always for the wonderful coverage.

ave April 8, 2013 at 12:59 am

I don’t get it why Vanmarcke rode like he did.
Yes, he cannot be called a wheelsucker now, but he cannot be called a winner, either.
Especially him leading out the sprint looked stupid.

I was thinking maybe it’s about a good new contract for next year, but hey, a Roubaix win would guarentee that. I just don’t get it.

The Inner Ring April 8, 2013 at 1:21 am

He was riding strong and it was perhaps a way to signal to Cancellara not to attack because he was as good as him? In other words “let’s make sure this comes down to a sprint”

dw April 8, 2013 at 1:15 am

Are there any track specific rules when the riders hit the velodrome? Ie, stay within the lines, etc

The Inner Ring April 8, 2013 at 1:20 am

None, it’s treated like an ordinary road.

Kyle April 9, 2013 at 12:25 am

I had the same thoughts.

Cancellara passing under those riders. Terpstra(no stranger to the track himself) sprinting on the apron. I have to admit, those moments made me cringe for just a second.

Saffron April 8, 2013 at 1:24 am

My first viewing of the P-R. What a brilliant afternoon of drama, skill and extraordinary energy. Thank you INRNG for the preview it gave the race depth and contex. Fab was fab. 254kms decided on the last and smoothest 1,500. I know planning a trip to watch next year.

Jim D. April 8, 2013 at 1:42 am

Seb was only a less than a bike length a champion but not in my book. You do not beat a champion by sucking his wheel, you ride as if you deserve to be there, he showed that. That said well done Fabian. Jim D.

Jii April 8, 2013 at 2:53 am

Nice ‘cross rider’ joke.

Duluth Baptist Clydesale April 8, 2013 at 4:31 am

Due to the vagaries of time differences, I usually only catch a bit of a Sunday race early, and then follow the finish via twitter or liveblog. You can’t always get the full picture that way, of course, but it’s still exciting. My initial impression, though, was that this was in many ways an even more impressive victory for Spartacus than his monster solo charges–fighting from behind, winning a match sprint that he usually tries to avoid? Imperious.

Of course, I thought he was just showing great strength in victory. It was not until later, watching the highlights and reading the quotes, that I realized that he had been pushed beyond his limits in this. And, of course, that makes this even more magnificent.

The images after the race–two outstanding competitors, physically and emotionally shattered–show us all exactly what is involved in this race. Two men who have given everything. A second-place rider who can’t control tears. A winner who must be carried to the podium. The dust, the agony, and the glory. It’s Roubaix. It’s Cycling. It’s Sports. It’s incredible.

eurotodd April 8, 2013 at 5:17 am

Thanks again for the pre and post race analysis. Was great to watch and riveting to the end. Chapeau to Cancellara for winning the way he did and even classier ride by Sep to take his turns at the front and not sit on Fabian’s wheel for a free ride. On a side note, I watched this on a ‘bootleg’ feed via the internet. I would gladly pay to get eurosport in HD with Sean Kelly’s commentary. Surely they know we are watching it via bootleg already and why not make some money by offering it up for a fee?

jobob April 8, 2013 at 7:09 am

“On a side note … I would gladly pay to get eurosport in HD with Sean Kelly’s commentary.” Likewise!!!! I watched some of the Eurosport feed in the wee hours of the morning in California (before I fell back to sleep ), and later I caught the Phil & Paul show on NBCSports that I had DVR’d. What a difference, and not at all in a good way.

Conor April 8, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Hey Eurotodd,

Head to eurosportplayer.co.uk to pay for a Eurosport stream. I pay £4.99 a month and can cancel at anytime. You can pay £2.99 a month if you’re willing to commit to a 12 month contract

Angela April 9, 2013 at 4:23 pm

You can get Eurosport player, but only if you’re paying with a credit card and a registered address n a country to which Eurosport has the rights to what you want to see. When my husband was a finalist for a job in Boston (no, not the one in Lincolnshire) a couple of years ago, I looked long and hard for a legal way to receive Eurosport and Sky Sports, and came to the conclusion that there wasn’t one. It’s possible to get Eurosport player, and I was going to arrange matters so that I’d paid the subscription before we left the country to remain maybe just this side of legality, but I was still going to have to ensure that I subscribed to a good proxy of VPN service.

Of course, now that Discovery (yes, them) have taken a 20% share in TF1/Eurosport, matters may change. But I suspect that our host may have a post about the tangled web of rights negotiations up his sleeve at some point . . .

Wayne N. April 8, 2013 at 6:36 am

It was great seeing Sep do some work with Fabian, however he did way too much and towards the end it hurt him. Fabian clearly a stronger rider would in no way allow the chasing group to catch necessitating
a bunch sprint for the win. Sep could have used that more to his advantage, pull some on the smooth sections and make Fabian pound out the Pave. Sep had the heart of a lion today.

charlie April 8, 2013 at 7:29 am

Thanks inrng for your twitter coverage early in the race whilst waiting for TV coverage to begin in Australia. You seemed to be a step ahead of a lot of other sources. Were you secretly patched into race radio!?

Larry T. April 8, 2013 at 8:54 am

Probably the odd man out here but I thought your review more exciting than the actual race. I doubt much will be said about this edition in future decades. P-R is about epic performances to me and while Spartacus was the class of the field, the field was….. Boonen was out, BMC and SKY were duds, the Omega guys screwed up big time, etc. BRAVO to Fabian for doing the double as Boonen did last year in his absence but for me this edition won’t go down in memory as anything special.

Jarvis April 8, 2013 at 9:53 am

I think one of the key moments was when Cancellara was in the third group and looking out of sorts dropped back to the team car for a chat. That “discussion” took Terpstra, Boom and Eisel out of the race as they choose to sit on his wheel and let the rest of the group ride up the road only to see Cancellara ride off up the road. OK so Boom and Terpstra had riders up the road so wehere entitled to sit on the wheel, but frankly feel they were all made to look idiots, especailly Eisel. Terpstra still managed to salvage third, but had he not wheel-sucked, he would have been with the front group when Cancellara arrived and you wonder what might have been if there had been three OPQS at the front entering Carrefour…

Rooie April 8, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Eisel chrashed when riding in Canc’s wheel, with the result that Boom had a puncture and Tersptra lost connection. Had Eisel not chrashed, Cancellare would not have been able to come back alone .

Ian April 8, 2013 at 10:25 am

Lovely summary and this together with the various preview articles greatly enhanced my understanding and enjoyment of the race. Watching this on Eurosport I thought the coverage was excellent and I enjoyed the unfolding stories throughout the race and it was particularly notable to me that no teams were able to control the race and it was left down to individuals to race it out. The most remarkable aspect was the calmness of Fabian when at one point I think he was in the 4th group on the road with about 30km to go but he still knew (or thought he knew) that he could haul the all of the others ahead of him in. Incredible.

theskideep April 8, 2013 at 11:04 am

Great piece the Inner Ring, I didn’t see the race but now feel like I did, top insight and some lovely lines (Fabby’s Swiss banking skills made me think that maybe the ex ministre du budget Mr Cahuzac should take up cycling).

Salsiccia April 8, 2013 at 11:24 am

Just wanted to add my thanks for the great article. Your blog is the best writing on the sport, full stop.

Adrian Holman April 8, 2013 at 11:24 am

Has anyone had a chance to question Spartacus on him allowing groups to form ahead of him and have the team car chat?? I’m sure we’d all love to know what was really going on!

Nick April 8, 2013 at 11:27 am

If Cancellara’s attack at 4km had been maybe 2 meters later then I think it would have worked.

When you watch the attack you can see he dives to the other side of the road divider. Vanmarcke was *almost* caught on the other side of it – if the attack had been just a fraction later he wouldn’t have made it across and onto Cancellara’s wheel straight away. If Cancellara had the gap then I doubt Vanmarcke would have got back on.

ave April 8, 2013 at 12:14 pm

The same spot (slight uphill) was utilized by Cancellara in 2011 too (he dropped everyone, but Summie was still in front), so I think Vanmarcke expected that attack.

Will April 8, 2013 at 11:49 am

Awesome race. Cancellara’s attack on Vanmarck close to the finish was really smart, trying to use the road furniture to force a gap. Very impressive by Vanmarck to stick with him.

roadiesean April 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Wagner put in a big ring cycle…….good job the pun is mightier than the sword ! ;-)

Ben B April 8, 2013 at 2:06 pm

In a track sprint, you are not allowed to put your foot down, or stop for more than a set time (5s?), but I presume such rules don’t apply in a road race, even at a velodrome finish. Could Vanmarcke have just unclipped and stopped when Cancellara went up the banking to force him to lead out?
Also, this must be the only race where the winner can disrupt the sprint for 3rd, are there any rules on making sure your victory celebrations don’t affect the remaining podium positions?

Duluth Baptist Clydesdale April 8, 2013 at 9:19 pm

He could have stopped, but the minute he did Cance would have hit the gas and the race would be over. Unclipping woukd be suicide, and even a true track stand would freeze him in place as Cance shifted and torched him. The match sprint has a number of features that a road race doesn’t that make track stands early practical. And you’ll find that track stands aren’t even that common.

P. Kirby April 8, 2013 at 2:14 pm

In the second photo above, there are three other riders in the shot. Who are those guys and why are they on the track. The TV footage made look like they almost messed up the end of the race for Sep and Spartacus.

Great race. One of my favorites (second after Flanders) and I’m so glad we have TV coverage here in the States.

Kjetil April 8, 2013 at 2:30 pm

When the riders enter the track they do 1 1/2 laps before the finish. The group Cancellara and Vanmarcke pass just after the finish line is one lap behind. There was also another group between these two.

touriste-routier April 8, 2013 at 2:38 pm

While I don’t specifically know the rules at play here, I strongly assume (always dangerous) that road rules are en force, as it is a road race that ends on a velodrome.

The final sprint was determined largely by mental and physical fatigue, and lack of a few basic velodrome skills (all elite racers should spend some time racing on the track, as the experience translates very well to the road).

One key skill is the ability to ride the banking while looking over one shoulder, another is keeping your opponent high and your bike in a position to block them from diving down the track, which not only keeps your opponent from using the banking as launch pad to get around you, but enables you to not have to look over both shoulders.

Contrary to popular belief, leading a match sprint from the front is not a bad tactic, particularly if you are the slower sprinter. This allows you to control the sprint. If you are the faster/more explosive sprinter, you still have the same control advantage. You get to use the banking of the track to your advantage, but you need to be able to ride while looking over your shoulder; if you turn your head, you open yourself up to attack while you are not looking.

Had Vanmarke kept Cancellara high on the banking, and his bike in a position that prevented Cancellara from diving down, and had he launched his sprint later (after the final turn), he would not have given Cancellara such a great lead out. The later of which was probably nerves, and will haunt him for a long time.

Of course all of this is theoretical, and hard to do after >250 k… Nonetheless I applaud him for riding like a champion, and not for panicking by trying to attack Cancellara, which if it failed would have likely led to a counter attack, and another solo victory for Cancellara.

Scott April 8, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Sojasun ran Ambrosio Nemesis rims, think this might be the last time we see box alu rims at Paris-Roubaix?

The Inner Ring April 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm

I know Orica-Greenedge did too and think that Ag2r and Lampre-Merida were also using some.

LDR99 April 8, 2013 at 9:15 pm

“. . . even the forceful Damien Gaudin got reeled in, his pedalling style reminiscent of a worker with a shovel.”

Great line. Poor Gaudin, his style a lightning rod for abuse. This from Dave Harmon (referring to Gaudin): “Pedaling as usual like a bag of spanners.”

Add that to: “Stybar must be having kittens now . . .” and, referring to Vanmarke, “He’ll be chewing the handlebars any minute now ” and you’ve just got to love Dave Harmon. Harmon along with Kelly and his droll but insightful comments, are a breath of fresh air. Given the choice yesterday to watch P-R on a big screen in HD with Phil and Paul, or on the cramped computer screen with Dave and Sean, I opted for the fuzzy picture and the great commentary. Oh for HD on our computer feeds . . .

Darren April 8, 2013 at 10:10 pm

Something bugs me about all this analysis re what Sep did or did not do versus what he should have or not have done! Adrenaline and all that shit going on in such a one-day race…logic or emotion, you decide! Experience beat youthful vigor! Sep will get his cobble/s!

Chrisman April 8, 2013 at 10:24 pm

What is it with Geraint Thomas and EBH and their constant pratfalls, they’re like the flippin Chuckle Brothers out there. I appreciate Sky are geared towards the Grand Tours but seriously, you’ve got like 25 riders. If these 2 comedians are the best you can come up with then I’m disappointed. It’s not even good comedy. Geraint Thomas is going in the bin marked ‘Hugely Overrated’ with Gesink, Kreuziger and Pozzato.

Bear in mind though – this is a knee-jerk reaction because I feel betrayed by Team Sky’s crapness in the last week.

Nick Evans April 10, 2013 at 1:24 am

“Geraint Thomas is going in the bin marked ‘Hugely Overrated’ with Gesink, Kreuziger and Pozzato”, and presumably a bunch of other hugely overrated double Olympic champions?

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