Greg Van Avermaet’s dream of winning a Monument came true when he raised his arms in celebration crossing the finish line first at Paris-Roubaix.
The Winner’s Interview with Greg Van Avermaet Van Avermaet, who has had a stellar Spring Classics campaign with three UCI WorldTour wins in the Belgian Classics, was hungry to stand on the top step of the podium after finishing second at Tour of Flanders.
The race was not without its ups and downs but solid teamwork put Van Avermaet into the right position heading into the finale.
With a strong tailwind and hot and dry conditions, it was a fast start to racing. Multiple attempts to form a breakaway were shut down and finally three riders went clear after almost 100km of racing.
Crashes continued to divide the peloton but Van Avermaet was well-protected at the front of the bunch.
With the help of his teammates Van Avermaet came back to the race car to adjust his bike and was caught in a bottle neck on his return, eventually needing a new bike and losing time on the bunch on sector 20.
Brilliant teamwork saw Van Avermaet slowly claw back the time and with 85km to go, Van Avermaet made the junction. At that moment, Daniel Oss went clear with Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Peter Sagan and Maciej Bodnar (both Bora-Hansgrohe).
The four riders forged on ahead creating the perfect situation for Van Avermaet, who was able to sit back and let other teams chase the group.
A rear flat for Sagan left Oss and Stuyven in front and Oss’ incredible strength saw him go solo with 38km remaining, after Van Avermaet’s group had bridged.
A small selection from Van Avermaet’s group went clear and as they caught Oss with 24km remaining, Oss put the hammer down for Van Avermaet.
With three cobble sections to go, it was just Van Avermaet, Zdenek Stybar (Quickstep-Floors) and Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team) left.
The trio battled to stay in front and as they reached the famous velodrome it was a game of cat and mouse. With the chasers entering soon after and threatening their fight for the win, the sprints started and it was Van Avermaet who had the legs and strength to take the honors in a thrilling win.
The Winner’s Interview with Greg Van Avermaet
Greg, you have just won Paris-Roubaix. Can you believe it?
“This is the maybe the race I would say I was not able to win. When I first came here I was so tired at the finish line, and it was not really what I was expected but I am so happy that I did it. I think everything went perfectly. For me the Olympics will always be my greatest win but now it’s really nice to have a Monument too.”
How did you feel in the finale?
“I was a bit afraid of Zdenek Stybar (Quickstep-Floors) because he was not working with us but then the sprint felt really good and I was really fast after this kind of long race. I was really confident in my sprint because I have sprinted several times from a small group. At the end of a hard race I’m always one of the fastest guys. I went onto the track with the thought that I was going to win. I’m really happy to win my first Monument because I have had to wait a really long time to finally get on the big spot of the podium.”
You had so many incidents over the entire day, but even on the velodrome did you feel this was a race for you?
“I hoped so. I had a little bit of bad luck before the Arenberg but the team really did a good job and everyone was in a good spot for me. I think Daniel Oss in the end did a really good job to put me in the best spot. I think every small piece came together and that’s why I won. I felt really strong at the end and I was believing in myself and my chances and I was really happy that I could finish it off in the sprint.”
You have transitioned from a rider who was on the podium to a rider who wins all the time. How does this feel?
“For sure I’m happy that I am now in this position. I tried for so many years to sit in this spot at these kind of races. I always believed that I could do it but you also need the results. When you win, you get more confident and the team gets more confident. It’s nice to win on the last day of Tom Boonen. I was looking last night at Wikipedia at Tom’s results and his career is so impressive. He won four times here and it’s to be part of his last race.
“I feel like a winner. We planned last night what we can do, and what I can do and that was to anticipate the leaders. I knew that Greg was back there with the leaders so I tried to stay with a gap as much as possible. When I heard it was 10 seconds I waited for Greg and then did my last effort and then kept going until the end. The result couldn’t have been better.”
Fabio Baldato, Sports Director:
“Our plan was to save Daniel Oss and Stefan Küng for the second part, for the final, to do exactly what Daniel did for Greg Van Avermaet. This was the kind of race we expected. The other guys in the team needed to be around Greg the whole day and protect him as much as possible. We had the problem with Greg’s bike and the moment that he need to change wasn’t good as he lost time. So, it was good to have Daniel and Jempy Drucker in the first group while behind the rest of the team worked hard to bring Greg back. All of the guys were amazing. In the Arrenberg Jempy was able to come back and help Greg. It was really great work.”
“At the same time when Greg came back to the bunch, Daniel attacked. From that moment the race was perfect because Greg was able to sit on the wheels of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Floors). Daniel really did a race for Greg. We decided to sacrifice Daniel so we asked him to stop, wait for Greg and do everything for him. It’s never easy to stop a rider alone at Paris-Roubaix but it was absolutely perfect, Daniel was amazing to give everything for Greg. They were able to keep the gap over the favorites and then Greg did his thing. Greg is so strong, and the team was so strong. This was a perfect race.”
BMC Racing Team top 3: 1. Greg Van Avermaet, 21. Daniel Oss, 56. Miles Scotson
Australian results: Paris –Roubaix 9th April
1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 5:41:07
2 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors
3 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac
11 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica-Scott 0:00:12
56 Miles Scotson (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:09:41
70 William Clarke (Aus) Cannondale-Drapac
90 Alexander Edmonson (Aus) Orica-Scott 0:20:44
91 Mitch Docker (Aus) Orica-Scott
DNF Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-Scott