Paris-Roubaix – one of the oldest, hardest and best races of the season – returns this Sunday for a new episode that will once again culminate with the iconic finish on the André-Pétrieux Velodrome. The 120th edition of the “Hell of the North” is expected to be a dry and dusty one, meaning we should have a fast race over northern France’s bone-shaking and treacherous cobblestones.
More bad luck for the team in Paris-Roubaix
The “Queen of the Classics” was incredibly cruel to our riders this year, who faced numerous crashes and mechanicals that took them out of the game long before the finish. The first Soudal Quick-Step member to experience misfortune was Kasper Asgreen, who had a mechanical on the very first cobblestone sector of the day. A change of wheel followed by a bike change a couple of moments later left the Dane trailing by more than a minute with 150 kilometers to go.
Fortunately, in a way, he could link up with Florian Sénéchal, who was also chasing after a puncture of his own. The duo chased hard and after a fantastic effort they managed to return to the peloton, from where Davide Ballerini was missing, following a crash that had taken him out of the race. As our squad began hoping the luck would change, another incident happened – this time in the Arenberg Forest, where Kasper Asgreen hit the ground and had to abandon, together with Bert Van Lerberghe.
Tim Merlier and Yves Lampaert – both caught up behind the crash – were left to carry the flag for the team at this brutal edition of Paris-Roubaix, and they both did the best in these conditions. The duo arrived with the peloton a couple of minutes behind winner Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Elegant) and the Belgian Champion concluded the day as the best placed Soudal Quick-Step rider.
“The day started out well, in the first 100 kilometers we were there, but then our misery began on the first cobblestone sector. Kasper had a mechanica, Bert crashed, Florian had a mechanical, and Davide crashed. Kasper and Florian managed to return after a chase of 40 kilometers, and as if this huge effort they put in wasn’t enough, Kasper and Bert were involved in that big crash that happened in the forest, while Yves and Tim were held up there. From then on, it became really difficult and we entered on survival mode. It wasn’t our cobbled classics campaign, but this part of the season isn’t over yet. The most important thing is that the guys recover well and rest before coming back for the next races”, said sports director Tom Steels.
Following the crashes in which they were involved, several Soudal Quick-Step riders had to abandon Paris-Roubaix. Bert Van Lerberghe has a muscle injury which will require a few days of recovery, Davide Ballerini will take a couple of days off for his knee injury to heal, while Kasper Asgreen needed some stiches on his chin and will undergo X-rays investigations on his wrist.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images