TDF Takes to the Cobbles of Roubaix

Two and half years after a life threatening accident, John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) took his first Tour de France victory whilst Richie Porte crashed out for the second year running

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TDF Takes to the Cobbles of Roubaix

Two and half years after a life threatening accident, John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) took his first Tour de France victory following six second places in six participations.

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A Paris-Roubaix winner in 2015, he achieved his goal in Roubaix as he outsprinted yellow jersey Greg Van Avermaet and Belgian champion Yves Lampaert. Pre race challenger Richie Porte abandoned the Tour de France in a crash before the cobblestone sections.

169 riders started stage 9 in Arras with one non starter: Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin). Five riders rode away right after the flag off: Omar Fraile (Astana), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL-Jumbo), Jérôme Cousin and Damien Gaudin (Direct Energie).

They were rejoined at km 20 by Chad Haga (Sunweb), Olivier Le Gac (Groupama-FDJ), Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) and Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie). But the main fact of the early part of the race was the abandon of Richie Porte (BMC) who broke a collarbone in a crash at km 7. José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) was also forced to pull out. The maximum time gap was 3’49’’ at km 35.

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Three flat tyres for Bardet
Tolhoek was ejected from the breakaway as he punctured on the first cobbled sector at km 47. Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) was the first GC contender to puncture but he made it back. Team Sky put the hammer down with 65km to go. The peloton was split for a while.
Race leader Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) sped up with 50km to go on the seventh cobbled sector where Bardet sustained a second flat tyre. Chris Froome (Sky) crashed with 46km to go but without any consequences. Other crashes affected Mikel Landa (Movistar) and Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First).

Gaudin and Janse van Rensburg rode away with 37km to go. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) was first to bridge the gap 20km before the end. At the bonus point with 18km remaining, Van Avermaet took 3’’, Stefan Küng (BMC) 2’’ and Dan Martin (UAE) 1’’.

Yves Lampaert (Quick Step) accelerated on the cobbled sector of Camphin-en-Pévèle. Van Avermaet and John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) accompanied him. Bardet had a third flat tyre with 6km to go and took place in the Landa group.

Degenkolb won the sprint of the leading trio in Roubaix with Philippe Gilbert beating Peter Sagan for fourth place. Van Avermaet extended his lead in the overall ranking before the rest day preceding the mountains.

John Degenkolb: “Pure happiness,” answered Degenkolb when asked what was going through his mind when he had won. “I was chasing this victory for so long, and it’s really hard to describe. It was a really hard fight the whole day. It’s also a victory of the team. We really had a plan to stay out for the trouble all the time and it really worked out really well. It’s unbelievable.”

“I was focusing on the race, trying to stay calm. I felt good and then [in the sprint] you don’t have to think,” he said afterward. “In relation to what has happened in the last two years, this is pretty unbelievable. So many people said he’s done, he’s over, he will never come back.”

“I am so happy to show all these guys who didn’t believe me that I am still there, I am still alive. I think that’s also what I took out of this accident: that you have to be happy after such a horrible crash that you are still alive, you’re still there. I was fighting my way back, and I am so proud.”

“This is a very big victory, since a very long time,” continued an emotional Degenkolb. “I have been through a lot of things in the past, and it was such a hard time. I want to dedicate this victory to one of my best friends who passed away last winter. This was really something for him because I said no, I am not done. I have to make at least one really big victory him, he was like my second Father.”

“It’s so great now to be on the highest level again. There’s no way to make it more dramatic, more fantastic, than winning a stage like today. It can’t get better than this.”

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Greg Van Avermaet: “After the crash, I just had to switch to trying to do my own race. It’s a bike race and it goes on so, I tried to do my best for the whole team and keep the jersey. The closer we got to the finish, the more I started believing and this result is a big disappointment for me.”

“Maybe the race wasn’t long enough for me really. I have a good sprint after six hours and today it was only 3 hours 30 minutes. I tried to do my own sprint instead of waiting for him [Degenkolb] but next time, I will try again and try to beat him. I was really aiming for that win in yellow and it didn’t happen but that’s how it goes. Overall, I kept the jersey and made a great race out of the stage and this is also something. I was really happy with my shape and it’s been special to wear the yellow jersey.”

“Losing Richie was a big disappointment for the whole team because we were here to bring him to Paris. You have some bad luck one year and you normally come back and then everything goes well. But for this to happen two year’s in a row is sad for Richie. He was well-prepared and in good shape in Switzerland so we really believed in him. I wish him all the best in his recovery and hopefully, he is back soon. Now, we will try to make the most out of the second and third week. It will be a little bit more relaxed but we will try to do as good as possible.”

Peter Sagan: “I made a bit of a mistake. There was only one sector that I took a bit at the back and it’s where they rode away. It was very hard to catch them. I tried to follow but it was too late. It was too hard also because everyone was on my wheel. I went on the attack in the last four kilometres but it was too late. It was a crazy day. Everybody was nervous. Richie [Porte] had a real bad luck. It was a stupid crash after 9km on the asphalted road.”

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Richie Porte: “Obviously I’m devastated. For the second year in a row I am ending the Tour de France like this. I was on the ground before I knew it and straight away felt pain in my right shoulder. I want to say a big thank you to my teammates for their incredible work over the first nine days. We had a great first week and I’m so disappointed that I won’t be continuing to Paris. I hope to recover as fast as possible and get back to racing,” Porte said.

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Yves Lampaert 3rd) “The heat and the wind made for a really hard day. There was quite the fight to get into a good position ahead of every section and I think I managed well. As I still had power in the legs, I decided to attack on Camphin-en-Pevele and was followed by two strong guys. I knew I had the last chance in the sprint, but third it’s still a good result. Maybe I could have attacked again before the finish, but it’s difficult now to look back and say where I could have made a move. Taking everything into account, it was a solid day.”

Bob Jungels “It was a very nervous day, as everybody wanted to be in the front. I came down on the left side of my body in a corner after slipping and ended up getting some bruises, but it doesn’t look so bad. It’s a pity Yves was against some fast guys in the final, but third is a nice result and we also gained some time on all the other contenders, so overall we did well and I think we can be satisfied, considering all that happened”, said Bob at the end of the stage which saw Quick-Step Floors maintain the first place in the team standings for the ninth consecutive day.

Edvald Boasson Hagen: “It was nice to be sitting in the front when we had Reinardt up the road. I could just focus on keeping towards the front of the group and out of trouble. Closer to the end the winning break went and I was bit behind so I was hoping someone else would be able to bring it back but that did not happen. We’ll continue to keep trying but it was not a bad day for the team today with Reinie up the road, he did a really good ride. It was pity there was a head wind today otherwise he might have made it a lot closer to the finish.”

Chris Froome: “The guys rode a fantastic race keeping myself and Geraint up front so chapeau to them. It was tough because there were times where we were in front and we did push on a little bit. But we also knew there was a long way to go. Those splits happened very early after three or four sections. So it was very early to really push and put everything on the line with so many cobbled sections to come. The guys rode a fantastic race keeping myself and Geraint up front so chapeau to them.

“We’ve had cobbles sections in the Tour so this isn’t a first for us. Thankfully we’ve got a recovery day tomorrow, so we’ll definitely soak that up and make the best of that. I’m relieved to get through today and looking forward to getting into the mountains now where the real race GC will start.”

“I think most of the GC guys were still there at the end. Obviously Richie was the most significant GC guy (to lose out). It’s never nice to see a mate go down like that. So my thoughts go out to him today.”

Geraint Thomas: “It was strange because there are GC guys and guys going for the stage. It would stop and come back together then split again. It was frustrating because you want to keep going, but you don’t necessarily want to be the one riding with 50km to go.

“It was just hard all day from kilometre zero. You’ve got to be in the right position but you also need the luck because it’s easy to puncture or get caught up in something. I think all the GC guys were up there. It was just sad to see Richie crash out. Obviously he’s a good mate of mine even though he’s a rival. It’s not nice to hear that on the radio.”

Mikel Landa: “I’m happy, because we got through a very difficult situation. I was drinking some water on an asphalt stretch between cobblestone sectors and rode over a pothole or drain cover. My team-mates were impressive after my accident, and not only pushing there for me but also during the whole stage: taking care of us three, solving that problem – I can’t credit them enough for their incredile job. Let’s hope it’s just scratches, so I can get back to 100% soon. I don’t really know if I’m at 100% right now; the right shoulder hurts a bit, but I think it should be nothing serious.”

Alejandro Valverde: “It’s been an unreal stage. A really, really hard effort, which we got through way better than expected. After so many tough moments, the team was able to also get Mikel into our group, and that makes me so happy, because they’ve shown how great they can be. We made it through, and that’s already success. My legs feel good at the moment, and our terrain to really shine starts on Tuesday.”

Nairo Quintana: “We got through a very difficult stage for us, and rode really focused, the entire team. It was a day when you needed to have very good physical condition and remain well positioned, always into alert. I had some sort of problem at the one of the early sectors and we had to go on the pursuit, but thanks to my team-mates, I could bridge back. After that, I always remained near the front, doing things well, in a very diffcult terrain for us against such talented specialists. I hope to make this gap up in the mountains, because my legs feel great at the moment.”

Tom Dumoulin said: “I was one of the strongest of the GC guys today and so I hoped for more differences on GC. There was a lot of head wind out there so it came back together all the time. I started with hoping to make differences today, but that didn’t work out.”

Vincenzo Nibali “The beginning was the most difficult part of all the stage. Everybody wanted to stay at the front: roads were narrow and the pace was very high” comments the Shark who was involved in a crash with 67km to go, without consequences, but that saw the peloton split “Fortunately we managed to retrieve. Then I stay at the front, but it was really hard because everytime we were on the cobblestone sectors everybody pushed to take it at the front and the speed was always high. It was a hard day. I’m tired, but happy”.
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Adam Yates, 9th overall: “It was about what we expected really. It was a big group of GC guys there at the end. The guys looked after me really well. There was a couple of sections there where guys had mechanicals or punctures and we were caught behind but they worked to bring me back. It was a great performance by the guys, we didn’t lose any time so it was a good day. I’m pretty excited (for what is to come). We’ve have nine days of flat, so I’m excited to finally climb some mountains but firstly it’s the rest day tomorrow and we will enjoy that.”

Dan Martin said: “That was incredibly hard and I have a new level of respect for the guys that ride Paris-Roubaix. It was an amazing experience and – in a strange way – I loved every minute. It would have been nicer without all the crashes, but at the end of the day my bike was faultless, we made it to the finish line and we’re still in the fight for the podium. Even after the crash yesterday, the team still believes in me 100%, so I have to give it everything. I stayed relaxed and composed, made sure I ate and drank before the cobbled sections and hung back when I needed to, knowing that the team would help me pick my way back to the front when the time was right.”

Jakob Fuglsang: Some mixed feelings I have after this stage. From one side, I wanted to get more from today, to take some time from my rivals. I just gave my best today, fought until the finish line and in the final I was a bit empty. That’s how it was. Anyway, I think I did a good race and I am still there, moved up with two positions. And it looks good ahead of the mountains. Yeah, I can’t complain with this day, since I finished together with other favorites. I had a small crash in a midway, but my team was there to bring me back quite fast. So, in general, it was good stage, now we will have a well-deserved rest day, – explained Jakob Fuglsang.

Stage Result
1. John Degenkolb, Trek – Segafredo
2. Greg Van Avermaet, Bmc Racing Team
3. Yves Lampaert, Quick – Step Floors
4. Philippe Gilbert, Quick – Step Floors 00′ 19
5. Peter Sagan, Bora – Hansgrohe 00′ 19
6. Jasper Stuyven, Trek – Segafredo 00′ 19
7. Bob Jungels, Quick – Step Floors 00′ 19
8. André Greipel, Lotto Soudal 00′ 27
9. Edvald Boasson Hagen, Team Dimension Data 00′ 27
10. Timothy Dupont, Wanty – Groupe Gobert 00′ 27

16. Geraint Thomas, Team Sky 00′ 27
18. Alejandro Valverde, Movistar Team 00′ 27
19. Tom Dumoulin, Team Sunweb 00′ 27
21. Bauke Mollema, Trek – Segafredo 00′ 27
22. Chris Froome, Team Sky 00′ 27
23. Vincenzo Nibali, Bahrain – Merida 00′ 27
24. Nairo Quintana, Movistar Team 00′ 27
27. Adam Yates, Mitchelton – Scott 00′ 27
30. Rafal Majka, Bora – Hansgrohe 00′ 27
32. Daniel Martin, Uae Team Emirates 00′ 27
36. Romain Bardet, Ag2r La Mondiale 00′ 34
59. Rigoberto Uran, Team Ef Education First 1′ 55
60. Pierre Rolland, Team Ef Education First 1′ 55

1. Greg Van Avermaet, Bmc Racing Team
2. Geraint Thomas, Team Sky 00′ 43
3. Philippe Gilbert, Quick – Step Floors 44
4. Bob Jungels, Quick – Step Floors 00′ 50
5. Alejandro Valverde, Movistar Team 01′ 31
6. Rafal Majka, Bora – Hansgrohe 01′ 32
7. Jakob Fuglsang, Astana Pro Team 01′ 33
8. Chris Froome, Team Sky 01′ 42
9. Adam Yates, Mitchelton – Scott 01′ 42
10. Mikel Landa, Movistar Team 01′ 42

12. Vincenzo Nibali, Bahrain – Merida 01′ 48
14. Bauke Mollema, Trek – Segafredo 01′ 58
15. Tom Dumoulin, Team Sunweb 2′ 03
17. Romain Bardet, Ag2r La Mondiale 02′ 32
18. Warren Barguil, Team Fortuneo – Samsic 02′ 37
21. Nairo Quintana, Movistar Team 02′ 50
22. Rigoberto Uran, Team Ef Education First 02′ 53
24. Daniel Martin, Uae Team Emirates 03′ 22
25. Pierre Rolland, Team Ef Education First 04′ 21


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