Zdenek has become second in Paris-Roubaix just like two years ago. Our favorite just wasn’t fast enough to beat Olympic Champion Greg Van Avermaet in the sprint. “In the end he just was a bit better than me.”
The 115th edition of Paris-Roubaix will be remembered as a special edition. Not only because it was the last race of four-time-winner Tom Boonen, but also because it was the fastest edition ever. The riders had an average speed of 45.204 km/h.
With Niki Terpstra Quick Step lost an important rider just before the final. Also Yves Lampaert and Matteo Trentin lost connection with the main group after Wallers. Boonen only had Styby to count on in the last 80 kilometers.
“The team had done a great job from the beginning of the race. But after Wallers it was just Tom and me. I had to close a lot of gaps and counter a bunch of attacks. In the final I was leading a group with Van Avermaet, but I was hoping that Tom would still return.”
That did not happen. After Carrefour de l’Arbre only three riders were left: Styby, Van Avermaet and Sebastian Langeveld. “I didn’t think I would be in this situation, because I already had cramps much earlier. But I managed to be there.”
On the track the three riders were looking at each other and Jasper Stuyven and Gianni Moscon came back after dropping on the Carrefour. “And then I began to sprint. Ok, maybe I should have waited 50 meters, but on the track it’s always a strange sprint.”
It looked that Styby would win, but in the final meters Van Avermaet was very strong and he came over our favorite. “I’m disappointed that I lose the sprint. But I can also be happy with my performance. I gave everything. Yet it is a pity that I did not win my first monument.”
“It’s only my fifth full season on the road. So I am confident that I will get more chances. It is also unfortunate that Tom does not win. We are good friends and I learned a lot from him. And I will always be grateful to him for that.”
Foto: © Tim De Waele