The Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders put in a strong performance in Sunday’s historically fast Paris-Roubaix. Unfortunately, bad luck followed the team, which ended up empty-handed despite an impressive fight.
As soon as the flag dropped after the start in Compiègne, riders began to attack. However, due to the strong tailwind nobody succeeded in distancing the peloton. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka was very active at the front but for the first time in many years, an early breakaway never managed to get a gap. Instead, it was all more or less together as the riders took on the first of 29 pavé sectors. Bernhardt Eisel had to change bike at this point and he spent a lot of energy chasing back to the front.
Meanwhile, team leader Edvald Boasson Hagen constantly stayed out of trouble, following the wheels of the pre-race favorites. For a long time, our Norwegian champion had a perfect race near the front but unfortunately, he suffered a puncture with 70 km to go. He managed to fight his way back but as the favorites started attacking at the same time, Boasson Hagen had to see his chances of success disappear. Luckily, Eisel had great legs this Sunday and the Austrian veteran impressed hugely by first joining the group of favorites and then attacking twice on the last 30 km. However, once again, the team suffered bad luck as Eisel punctured just as the riders took on the final five-star rated pavé sector, Carrefour de l’Arbre. This time, there was no coming back. Eisel finished the race in 36th place after an unlucky but very impressive day on the bike. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) took win as he outsprinted Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step-Floors) and Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale-Drapac) in a five-man group.
”This was my 15th edition of Paris-Roubaix. I have had good years and bad years and even though I have had better results than today, I think this was the best Roubaix I’ve ever done. Other years, I have had better luck and better results. This time, I just had the legs. I went twice at the right time but I just didn’t have any luck. I’m really disappointed. On the first pavé sector, I had to change my bike so I rode most of the day on my spare bike without my power meter. In the final, I knew I couldn’t follow the best riders on Carrefour de l’Arbre so I attacked two sectors before that, hoping I could stay on the wheels when they caught me. Unfortunately, I punctured on my front wheel just as we went into the head wind on Carrefour de l’Arbre and that was it. I think that with all the bad luck I had today; changing bikes, starting the first sector at the back of the peloton, fighting back, being dropped, attacking, getting caught, attacking again, getting caught again and then puncturing and ending up with Sagan, well, I think we both had had enough of that Paris-Roubaix at that time”.