Anyone, who thinks a gigantic climb up to a legendary summit is absolutely necessary for a thrilling stage and there’s no other possible way to create drama has been proven totally wrong with the 2021 edition of Paris – Roubaix.
You know this race is a monument of the sport, when you take a look at the numbers already:
Total distance: 257 km!
Including: 30 sectors with a total distance of 50kms of pavet!
Nickname: The hell of the north!
This race is a spring classic with cold but dry conditions for dozens of years straight. Due to the pandemic it has been moved to early octobre and how could it have been any other way:
Rain showed up in the night before the race and wouldn’t stop until late in the race!
Usually, I prefer being outside riding roadbikes to sitting in front of the TV watching races the whole day. However, for the most prestige classic monument race in the world, I decided to make a super rare exception and of course I didn’t just sit on the couch staring at the TV for six hours straight … I studied the race in detail, which led to pages and pages of hand written race notes, which I would like to share right here:
Paris Roubaix 2021
start conditions -> cold and wet
rider impression -> focused, not happy,
noone is laughing except of
Tim Declerx -> already at the front on the Depàrt fictif
TV legend expert Jens Voigt is already hyped, compares the riders with gladiators. Voigt rode in the same conditions about 20 years ago
first crash after 800 metres
first breakaway at 247 km to go
Trentin, Theuns, Kanter -> caught after about 25km
next breakaway (huge) at 209km to go (20-25 riders)
most teams are represented in the breakaway
Voigt calls it a race deciding situation
10km’s before Sector 30, the first segment of pavet in the race, tension is rising in the whole field, everyone wants to enter this sector at front. First time Mathieu v.d Poel shows up on the screen
5km’s before Sector 30 -> Stefan Küng and FDJ are again part of it (wrong tire pressure?)
Sector 30 -> peloton is torn into pieces, needs to regroup before the next sector -> 2min. away from the breakaway
150km to go -> Luke Rowe + Gianni Moscon (both Team Ineos) make a good impression in the breakaway
140km to go -> Sagan and Pollitt at the back of the peloton, Oss can’t stay in the breakaway. Bad day for Team Bora Hans Grohe.
Peloton once again torn apart, many riders lose contact to the peloton
Sagan crashes, looks shaken up
133km -> what’s up with Team FDJ? 3rd crash for Stefan Küng, front wheel slips away on the pavet out of nowhere
126km -> John Degenkolb crashes in the peloton, front slips away similar to Küng
115km -> Mathieu v.d.Poel attacks in the peloton with 2:30min behind the breakaway
Crashes and technical issues are still present everywhere in the race:
Laporte (Team Cofidis) lost rear brake, uses his right foot to slow down the rear tire before turns
100km -> Jens Voigt says, the riders look like riding bikes “on wet leaves and oily ice”!
The Forest of Arenberg
Eckhoff and Vermeersch are in front
Van Aert escapes crash soooooo close
Mathieu v.d. Poel attacks with Sonny Colbrelli at his wheel
The forest looks super rough, many ugly crashes
85km to go -> SONNY COLBRELLI attacks!!!
The field is close together after all, just one minute between breakaway, chase and peloton
75km to go -> Colbrelli is on a mission!
Side note: I need a coffee, it’s the 5th hour of sitting in front of the TV screen
70km to go -> Mathieu v.d. Poel attacks again and again,
van Aert can’t follow
52km to go -> Gianni Moscon is alone at the front after
all other riders in the breakaway crash
50km to go -> v.d.Poel, Colbrelli and Canadian Champ
Boivin are on a mission to catch Moscon
van Aert is nowhere!
Side note: Riders and Bicycles look like mine workers.
This isn’t a road race…
37km to go -> v.d.Poel attacks with 1:15min between him
Seems like noone can follow him -> wrong, Colbrelli, Boivin
and the rest of the chase are able to catch up to him
30km to go -> Moscon with a technical issue, has to change
bike and loses 30 seconds
Side note: Team Ineos has Moscon’s alternative bike installed
on the left position on the roof of the teamcar,
which costs time and proves, that Moscon has not
been their number one choice for the day…
Jens Voigt calls this a “noob mistake” by Team Ineos, because
they had enough time to prepare everything for their only rider left in the race
26km to go -> Moscon crashes on his new bike
wrong/different tire pressure than before?
however, he doesn’t stop fighting for the win
with 15sec left between him and the chase!
Carrefour de’l arbre
Colbrelli, v.d.Poel and Vermeersch catch up to Moscon
Colbrelli looks strong
Moscon loses contact to the group and is gone
10km to go -> The race is going to be decided between
v.d.Poel, Colbrelli and Vermeersch
Watch out for Colbrelli!
Sonny Colbrelli, the european champ, wins in a thrilling finish sprint in front of Vermeersch and v.d.Poel!!!
Vermeersch tried everything and started the sprint early but Colbrelli did the smartest sprint and probably had the most left in the tank!
<- where else, right?
<- Trentin was gone after that
<- horrible day for FDJ, it’s a shame, because Küng looked super fresh and motivated
<- what happened to Luke Rowe after this? one moment he’s in the breakaway looking super fresh, next moment he’s gone…
<- nasty crash, which ended Sagan’s race, even though he continued
<- only one week after his crash at the world champs! Big streak of bad luck for Degenkolb…
<- The “road” through the forest looked so narrow! If a single rider crashes in front, everyone behind him needs to have superpowers to escape a crash
<- That day, I finally understood the meaning of being tired of doing nothing!
<- Legends do legendary things! Jens Voigt -> best TV expert ever!
This race is just incredible! Anyone who has never seen it, won’t understand this.
It’s incredible, that the riders are actually finishing this race at all and it’s incredible, that the bikes are actually surviving this race.
It’s incredible, that the pavet sectors are all listed and protected as a historical monument and it’s incredible to see, how the people in northern france are celebrating the race and the sport like this.
I am already hyped for next year’s edition of Paris – Roubaix!