Paris-Roubiax: Sagan Triumphs in Roubaix

Report & round up of rider reactions – The rainbow stripes shone again on Paris-Roubaix as Peter Sagan, 37 years after Hinault, beat rider of the day Silvan Dillier to the finish line


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Paris-Roubiax: Sagan Triumphs in Roubaix

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) became the first reigning world champion to win Paris-Roubaix since Bernard Hinault in 1981. He won a two-man sprint on the velodrome against Swiss national champion Silvan Dillier of AG2R-La Mondiale after he countered the successive initiatives of hot favourites Quick Step Floors with 55km to go. Former winner Niki Terpstra rounded out the podium for the Belgian team.

Following a vain attack by Wang Meiyin, the only Chinese in the race, Brenton Jones (Delko Marseille), Dries De Bondt (Willems-Crelan), Alexandre Pichot (Direct Energie) and Johan van Zyl (Dimension Data) went clear at km 17 but the peloton reacted.
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Brice Feillu (Fortuneo-Samsic) counter-attacked but a solo move was mission impossible. After 42km of racing, six riders managed to form a breakaway: Silvan Dillier (AG2R-La Mondiale), Sven-Erik Bystrom (UAE Team Emirates), Ludovic Robeet and Jimmy Duquennoy (WB Veranclassic), Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Soudal) and Marc Soler (Movistar).

With 200km to go, Gatis Smukulis (Delko Marseille), Geoffrey Soupe (Cofidis) and Jay Thompson (Dimension Data) made it a group of nine at the front while the peloton was cruising more than four minutes behind.

The deficit of the bunch was seven minutes when they hit the first cobbled section at Troisvilles (km 93.5) after the nine leaders got a maximum advantage of 8.50. A crash split the peloton in three parts with defending champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) being caught in the last part. He lost team-mate Stefan Küng in one of the first crashes of the day.

Despite several hiccups affecting Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), Oliver Naesen (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Emirates), all the favourites were back in the main pack mostly led by Quick Step Floors towards the Arenberg trench where the advantage of the breakaway group was down to 2.15. At the exit of the trench, the front group was split in two with Dillier, Bystrom, Wallays, Robeet and Soler at the front while Mike Teunissen (Sunweb) and Philippe Gilbert (Quick Step Floors) rode away from the peloton before being reinforced by Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin).

Sagan in action with 55km to go
With 75km to go, all the favourites were reunited with a deficit of one minute from the five remaining leading riders. Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step Floors) relayed Gilbert on the offensive in between the five leading riders and the peloton. Stybar caught Soler who couldn’t hold the pace of his former breakaway companions. As he also caught Robeet, he gave up the chase with 60km to go. Van Avermaet launched the battle of the giants with 55km to go.

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) countered and rode away solo. Sagan hit the front of the race with 51km to go. 40km before the end, Sagan, Dillier and Wallays had 35 seconds lead over a small group led by Niki Terpstra (Quick Step Floors) and eventually formed of Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Sep Vanmarcke and Taylor Phinney (EF), Wout Van Aert (Willems-Crelan), Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal) and Van Avermaet.

Sagan beats Dillier on the velodrome
With 25km to go, the leading trio had an advantage of 45 seconds. It went up to 1.25 as Wallays lost contact and left the lone Dillier as an early breakaway member along with Sagan at the front. Sagan tried to go solo on the cobblestone sections of Carrefour de l’Arbre and Hem but the Swiss champion stayed with him. The duo was never threatened by the chasing group from which Terpstra exited to round out the podium behind Sagan who was logically faster than Dillier in the sprint on the velodrome of Roubaix.


Peter Sagan: “It’s amazing to win Paris-Roubaix! I’m so tired after this race but I have to say, this year I wasn’t involved in any crashes, I wasn’t feeling tired at the start and just tried to save energy. After I went in the attack I just kept going until the finish. I feel so much better than I have done in all the years I’ve ridden Paris-Roubaix – I was so much more tired then than I am today.”

“Thank you to all my teammates, because they did such a great job – Daniel Oss, Marcus Burghardt and Maciej Bodnar, my brother Juraj and to Andreas Schillinger and Rüdi Selliger at the start, who kept the group all together. In the end, I made the winning move with around 50km to go and I’m very happy to have come in first. It’s an amazing feeling. I always try to do my best and to get the best results.”

Silvan Dillier: “I’ve been training at Gran Canaria with 41 hours of riding in seven days. So I had the foundations for the classics. Unfortunately, I broke a finger at Strade Bianche five weeks ago. I didn’t think I’d come back on the cobbles this season but I got selected at the last moment and I’m very happy to have come to Paris-Roubaix. Peter Sagan was an angel and a devil in the same person.”

“I’m happy that he was working with me very well, but he was a devil to be with because he’s hard to beat in a two man sprint. We have respected each other but he was better than me in the sprint. I entered first on the velodrome and stayed on the outside. Peter launched at the same time but he accelerated faster than me. I had no chance to beat him. I’m very happy that I was in a position to win and a little bit disappointed about not winning but I was against the current best rider. I hope to be the winner in the future. Normally Oliver [Naesen] is our leader for the classics but circumstances made me the leader today. After this I’d like to be at the Tour de France to help Romain Bardet, also on the cobblestones. I’m confident I’ll be selected.”

Niki Terpstra: “We did a pretty good race but Peter [Sagan] made a very good attack at the right moment. It’s impossible to be 257km at the front. We have avoided crashes for a while as we knew that the first cobbled sections were muddy but we were not at the front at the moment of Sagan’s attack. It’s not only Quick Step that makes the race. Cooperation was pretty good in the chase. We worked well together until the last three kilometers. I can’t complain about the lack of cooperation. Peter was just too strong. We couldn’t catch him. I attacked before the last cobbled section to grab the third place as we realized we were not racing for the win anymore.”

Greg Van Avermaet: “It was a hard race again. I tried to open up the race I think with some good efforts. It was hard to get away and then Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) went and then, it was not on us to really make the race hard. From there, I tried to follow and do a good result. I was hoping to catch Peter back but I think he also had a lot of help from Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale) to really keep his lead. Then, it was more about racing for third place. I am a little bit sad that I am not on the podium because I really wanted to react to everything but when I reacted to Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors) then went and my legs were full so it was not possible.”

“It is always so hard. You know you are going to lose two or three guys anyway. I was behind the crash on the first sector so it was good that Francisco Ventoso and Michael Schär could bring me back there. That was the most important thing. It was nice to then have one guy next to me with Jempy Drucker there. He covered some attacks and tried to control the race. I had a good feeling and I was really happy with my form and actually with my performance. Of course, I wanted to win but I know how hard it is to win here. It is a good race for me and I am pretty happy with my result.”

“In the beginning, it was really slippery and crazy. For me, the hardest part is always the first sectors when you are trying to get into position. Afterward, I always have a good position and it goes much easier. It was a tough edition of the race but I think I made the best of it. Tactics are always hard. You have to choose the right moment but I think I made a pretty good race in the end.”

Sep Vanmarcke: “It was a very hard race, full gas from the start because it was tailwind. You always see with this wind, that it’s full gas racing because everyone can keep going, so it’s an honest race. I was always in control with the team. They kept me in a good position, and Taylor did the race of his life, his best race in the least years. He was really strong. The others also.” I could only be on the podium if they gambled and I could get away but it didn’t happen. In the end, it was the maximum I could do. It’s a beautiful race and a hard race. It suits me very well. I didn’t make a mistake but in the end, in the last 20km, I got suddenly really tried and suddenly I was the weakest of the five. I knew it was going to be hard.”

Taylor Phinney: “The plan was to try to go into the breakaway if there was a big one but it wasn’t quite big enough. I tried to help Sep out with positioning. The first couple sectors were crazy. There was a nasty crash. It was kind of muddy. I was feeling good. I felt really good on the cobbles. I felt worse on the asphalt than I did on the cobbles. We have Andreas Klier to thank for that, the amount of work + dedication he puts into the equipment side of the things.”

“Our tyre and tyre pressure, the vittoria tyres were perfect today. on the cobbles I felt really comfortable. The speed slows down when everyone gets tired. That’s when I tried to make my move. I went on the front Mons-en-Pévèle. That’s a make or break point of the race historically. Those other guys came up to me and I tried to do everything I could do hang on, help out. I could barely pull through. I tried to hang on and got onto that second group’s wheel. It was a strange sprint, coming around another group. We wanted to win today. It’s too bad we didn’t, but Sep rode as well as he could given the conditions. I think I rode better than I expected, but I did make it a goal to be top ten here though.”

Jasper Stuyven: “I didn’t have super legs today, so I am really happy with my 5th place,” said a tired Stuyven. “After Arenberg, I felt that my legs weren’t the greatest anymore. It might have been because this is the first heat we’ve had, and that’s always difficult to come through.”

“When Sagan went, I didn’t panic. I was pretty sure we would catch him back. I accelerated with Wout (Van Aert); it was a good moment to go I think, and we kept riding and riding, and I hoped to catch Sagan on time so that I could recover a bit, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I knew on Mons-en-Pévèle there would be an acceleration in the back, and it was good that they came to us.”

“At one point I thought we would come back to Sagan, I think we came on 35-40 seconds, but we didn’t go fast enough. And then the gap went up to 50 seconds really quickly, I must say,” continued Stuyven.“[After Wout and I were caught] I was a little bit afraid that I was going to be dropped on one of the next sectors, but then I also noticed that everyone else was also on the limit. Then I started to believe more again in the podium.”

“Terpstra was the strongest of our group, and at the end, he started to ride a few meters behind us, so you just knew he was going to attack,” explained Stuyven. “I decided to go myself then, to be the first, but unfortunately, Van Avermaet decided he had to come for me. And then you just know that Terpstra will go. In the end, Niki made a good attack after Greg was trying to close the gap [to me] on his own.”

Mads Pedersen: “Bad luck? I only had a puncture, and that happens in this race. I got a wheel fast and came back to the group, and of course, I spent some energy on that, but it could be a lot worse. Good race, hard race – full gas almost the whole day. Jasper finished 5th, and yes it would be nice to have a guy on the podium, but he can be happy with that. He did an amazing job, and we are happy with the fifth place.”

John Degenkolb: “I am completely wasted. I gave everything. The luck was not on my side, but that is Paris-Roubaix also. I had to change the bike and had some problems afterward and it cost me a lot of energy. But still I tried to do my best, and I think I still did a good, offensive race to do my job in the team. I was feeling better and better in the race. My feeling right now? I am just empty. Just empty. Now I go and have a shower.”

Nils Politt (7th) “Top ten for me in Paris-Roubaix is a dream come true, said Nils Politt. (Director) Schmitti told me to do the best I could on the track and if I had the legs I should try something. I come from the track and I managed to take the sprint from my group for seventh place.”

“I just missed getting into the second group. Someone let a small gap open on one section of pavé. I tried to close this gap but it was impossible, so I ended up in the next group. Debusschere (Jens) and Stybar (Zdenek) came to me and I joined up with them. Near the end we were close to come back as some guys dropped away, but in the end it was seventh place”, said Nils Politt. … continued after advert


Jelle Wallays: “I have an attacking style of racing. It’s the fourth time that I was part of a breakaway at Paris-Roubaix and this is my best final result ever. It was no easy job to get in today’s break. Because there was a tailwind, the riders knew there was a possibility that the break would stay ahead very long. Dillier and I survived the longest, but when Sagan joined us, I immediately felt that the pace was raised. Sagan said that the riders behind us were having a hard time as well and that he thought we would make it to the finish. Unfortunately I got into difficulty each time he raised the pace after a corner. At a certain moment I had to let them go.”

“I am disappointed, because in the end they did make it to the velodrome. If I had been able to hang on, I would have finished on the podium. But I gave all I got along the way and I had nothing left. I rode a good race and I felt strong on the cobbles. I might have been too eager, but that’s easily said afterwards.”

Jens Debusschere: “Before the race I would have signed for a place on top ten, but when you see how the race developed you always hope for more. My biggest effort of today was when I bridged from the second chasing group to the first chasing group that included among other Van Avermaet and Vanmarcke. In the finale it was suddenly going so fast that I needed to let some of the others go. I then got in a group that sprinted for the seventh place. I was not so fast anymore at the end of the day and became tenth.”

“The race went well for me, I only got distanced because of a crash on the first cobblestone sector. But the teammates of Yves Lampaert, Oliver Naesen and Greg Van Avermaet, who were also in that group, closed the gap rather quickly. From then on I always tried to ride on the first rows of the peloton. My form was good and finishing tenth in a monument as Paris-Roubaix is definitely a nice result.”

Geraint Thomas: “From yesterday, I’ve not been feeling 100%. This morning I was struggling to get fuel in so from the start I wasn’t feeling great. When it came to fighting for position I lost a bit going into the first sector. “I was around the top 50 and then where you’re at is where you’re at. Unfortunately quite a few guys came down in front of me and I went straight into that. That was that.

“I was a bit sore on the bike. I could ride, but I was well out of the back. I didn’t come here to just try and finish the race – I was here to do something for the boys in the final. It’s disappointing to stop, but that’s how this race goes sometimes.”

Mathew Hayman – 2016 champion: “I was fairly good. I was able to leave it all out there and where I ended up was about where I was today. I was having a fairly good day but then just ran out of legs. I was able to follow those key guys but I wasn’t able to make a difference. That’s Roubaix, you spend a lot of energy getting through important sectors and then the race really starts.”

“When Sagan went I was still looking for some opportunities at different points and you do never know in this race. At one point we were not very far from that chase group, maybe just 10-15seconds, but that didn’t happen. Most people at home would know a lot more about this Paris-Roubaix than me because I just saw the wheel in front of me, you are so concentrated in what you are doing.”

Edvald Boasson Hagen “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.”

1. Sagan Peter BORA – hansgrohe 5:54:06
2. Dillier Silvan AG2R La Mondiale
3. Terpstra Niki Quick-Step Floors 0:57
4. Van Avermaet Greg BMC Racing Team 1:34
5. Stuyven Jasper Trek – Segafredo
6. Vanmarcke Sep Team EF Education First-Drapac
7. Politt Nils Team Katusha – Alpecin 2:31
8. Phinney Taylor Team EF Education First-Drapac
9. Stybar Zdenek Quick-Step Floors
10. Debusschere Jens Lotto Soudal
11. Teunissen Mike Team Sunweb
12. Naesen Oliver AG2R La Mondiale
13. Van Aert Wout Vérandas Willems-Crelan
14. Wallays Jelle Lotto Soudal 2:37
15. Gilbert Philippe Quick-Step Floors 3:07
16. Jansen Amund Grondahl Team LottoNL-Jumbo
17. Degenkolb John Trek – Segafredo
18. Marcato Marco UAE-Team Emirates
19. van Baarle Dylan Team Sky
20. Haussler Heinrich Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team

22 Hayman Mathew Mitchelton-Scott (former winner)
44 Groenewegen Dylan Team LottoNL-Jumbo 12:54
49 Doull Owain Team Sky
57 Kristoff Alexander UAE-Team Emirates (crashed from leading peloton late on)
61 Démare Arnaud Groupama – FDJ
64 Scully Thomas Team EF Education First-Drapac
72 Martin Tony Team Katusha – Alpecin (crashed from leading peloton late on)
97 Bauer Jack Mitchelton-Scott





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