Paris-Roubaix 2018 got off to a flying start and never slowed down. Although the day was sunny and dry, the cobbles weren’t always that way and the mud and multiple crashes – including some incredibly serious – helped the break of the day stay away longer than expected. But it was a Quick-Step-like move from Peter Sagan at 54km to go that set up the win. Silvan Dillier (Ag2r La Mondiale) was the only rider who could stay with the world champion to finish second in the two-up sprint. Ronde champion Niki Terpstra rode to third solo.
Rider(s) of the Race
How could I possibly choose between Peter Sagan and Silvan Dillier for rider of the race? Both deserve the honour for different reasons. Let’s start with today’s victor: Peter Sagan has had a frustrating spring, being the most marked of marked men in races, coming away with only one spring victory before today, last month’s Gent-Wevelgem. His hope of winning another Tour of Flanders was thwarted by the stand-off within the chasing group – they wouldn’t ride with him to catch Niki Terpstra and he wouldn’t ride on the front for them to wheelsuck before attacking, which meant no one took a chance and Terpstra had the race to himself.Embed from Getty Images
Today, Sagan’s team worked hard and smart to chase down attacks, keep their man tucked up in front and away from multiple crashes, so that he was as fresh as could be when he made his move at the 54km mark. After a day of Quick-Step chasing down every halfway dangerous move, they inexplicably let the world champion ride away – and with him any chance of raising the winning cobble over their head.Embed from Getty Images
Sagan’s move let him bridge to the remnant of the day’s break, working with them (and riding them hard) until there was only one left riding – Silvan Dillier. By that time, the baby-faced Swiss rider had been out in front for over 150km and, while we might have believed that Sagan could pull off a victory from that far out, no one really predicted that Dillier would match the speed, the panache and the guts of the world champion all the way into the Velodrome. However, Dillier worked with Sagan all the way to the Velodrome (even following him in his crazy slaloms through the last few cobbled sections) – a tactic that guaranteed him a podium position and, quite likely, guaranteed that for Sagan as well.
My favourite image of the day? The pair of them shaking hands after the finish line. It was one of the classiest rides from a duo we’ve seen in a long time.
That Boy Phinney
To listen to his super-chilled interview before the race, you’d be forgiven for wondering if Taylor Phinney would be able to stay awake during the 257km of Paris-Roubaix. Well, he did stay awake and pepped quite a bit, finishing in the top ten – certainly one of the best results he’s had since coming back from his devastating crash a few years ago. As one of our favourites at VeloVoices Towers, we’re thrilled that the 27-year-old American rider has finished so strong. Here’s hoping Taylor will go from strength to strength this season. We all need some Phinney in our lives.
It takes a team
Last year, we saw Daniel Oss setting up his BMC teammate Greg Van Avermaet for his first Paris Roubaix win. When it was announced that Oss would be transferring to Bora-hansgrohe to ride with his former teammate, Peter Sagan, it boded well for Sagan’s chance for the cobbled top step. Oss, Sagan’s brother Juraj, and the German national champion Marcus Burghardt did a lot of work for their captain: Oss rode in front through Arenberg, Burghardt rode down dangerous moves and Juraj kept the pace high whenever the peloton split. A lot of people lament that Sagan is always on his own – well, today he certainly wasn’t, and it made the difference.
There were a couple of big crashes today, causing a lot of abandonments, but the most serious was a crash by the young Vérandas Willems–Crelan rider, Michael Goolaerts. The 23-year-old Belgian cyclist had to be airlifted to hospital and though has been a lot of speculation, I’d rather not add to that. At the time of writing, there hasn’t been any official news from his team, other than the tweet below. All our hopes are with Michael, his family and his team.
1 Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) 5:54:06
2 Silvan Dillier (Ag2r La Mondiale) same time
3 Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors) 0:57
4 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) +1:34
5 Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) same time
6 Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education) s/t
7 Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) +2:31
8 Taylor Phinney (EF Education) same time
9 Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors) s/t
10 Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal) s/t
Make sure you check out this coming Tuesday’s Tweets of the Week for the Roubaix special!
For full race results, go to cyclingnews