First Edition Cycling News for April 10, 2006
Edited by Jeff Jones
Paris-Roubaix wrap-up: Huge win for Cance
Controversy as second to fourth places disqualified
Fabian Cancellara (CSC) has scored the biggest victory of his career, winning the 104th Paris-Roubaix with a powerful attack with 18 km to go on the Camphin-en Pévèle sector. Cancellara initially had Vladimir Gussev (Discovery) with him, but quickly dropped the Russian and rode to the finish alone. He had over a minute to the next group when he entered the velodrome, and had plenty of time to celebrate.
In second place, somewhat controversially, was Tom Boonen (Quick.Step), ahead of Alessandro Ballan and Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank). The World Champion actually crossed the line in fifth place, but Leif Hoste, Peter Van Petegem and Gussev (2nd through 4th) were all disqualified after ducking through a closed train crossing with 10 km to go. None of them - even Boonen - were particularly happy with the commissaires' decision.
The race followed a fairly predictable path before that: A lead group of four containing Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Nicolas Portal (Caisse d'Epargne), Stephan Schreck (T-Mobile) and Dmitri Konyshev (LPR) was caught by the peloton through the Arenberg Forest section with 96 km to go. Then a leading group of 17 men formed, containing most of the favourites. Discovery Channel's chances diminished when George Hincapie snapped his steerer tube on Mons-en-Pévèle with 45 km to go and dropped out of the race. Tom Boonen was isolated, but managed to handle most of the attacks until Cancellara's final move with 18 km to go. Then it was Cancellara versus Hoste, Gussev and Van Petegem, with Boonen's trio unable to regain contact.
An interview with Fabian Cancellara
83 years after Henri Suter became the first Swiss winner in the 1923 edition of Paris-Roubaix, Fabian Cancellara took the top spot in the Stade Vélodrome. Brecht Decaluwé was confronted with an emotional winner at the post-race press conference.
The massively strong Swiss was visibly emotional about his win, but sure the strongest man won the day: "Don't you think this was a demonstration?" Cancellara asked.
"For sure, I was the strongest man in the race. I was riding very strongly over the cobbles. Already in the Arenberg forest, I tried to form the decisive escape. My objective was to make the difference in this race. That's why I won. Not only did I win with my legs, but I was also very strong in my head. Also, the team did everything they could to support me."
On the disqualification of three riders, 'Cance' was less emotional. "I didn't know what happened behind me but I do know that it didn't change the name of the winner."
Click here for the full interview
Boonen: "The strongest man won"
By Brecht Decaluwé in Roubaix
Under controversial circumstances, defending champion Tom Boonen finished on the podium at the 2006 Paris-Roubaix. However, in his typically honest manner, he said at the post-race press conference: "If you would make a ranking of the strongest men, I would be fifth."
Cyclingnews: How is it to finish second this way [after three riders who finished before the world champion were disqualified - ed]?
Tom Boonen: "It's not a nice way and I don't agree with the decision the officials took. When the train was passing, it was up to the officials to make us stop. I finished fifth, not second. But that's the way it is now."
CN: How did you enjoy standing there when the gates were shut?
TB: "Normally you don't have the chance to look around like that. The birds were flying, the sun was shining and a train passed us, it was beautiful. Then the gates opened and we started off racing again." (wry smile)
CN: Was it not possible for you to react when the decisive escape got away?
TB: It was Gusev who attacked at the left side of the road. I was at the other side and wanted to cross over. At that moment Flecha passed me and I had to brake, avoiding a fall. That moment, I cracked."
CN: After Arenberg forest, you had no more teammates left - what happened?
TB: "This week, I told my teammates that I would enter the forest as first rider. I did, and after a while I dropped back to third position to control the situation. Having no teammates from that moment on didn't bother me at all. Everything just happened; it didn't have an influence on the result, as I wouldn't be a minute faster."
CN: Is Fabian Cancellara a deserving winner for you?
TB: "He was the strongest man in the race today. Other strong men were Flecha and Hincapie. If you would make a ranking of the strongest men, I would be fifth. So my result was alright."
CN: How strong was Tom Boonen today, then?
TB: "Certainly not as strong as in the Tour of Flanders. Maybe if everything would've gone right for me, I could've won. With a half of a percent extra, I could've joined the escape. But I just didn't have the legs to pass Van Petegem and Flecha.
"If you had asked me in January if I would agree with some stages wins in Qatar and Paris-Nice, a fourth place in Milano-Sanremo, a win in the E3-Harelbeke and Tour of Flanders plus a second spot in Paris-Roubaix... I would definitely say yes to that." (smiles)
Leif Hoste (Discovery Channel, DQ after finishing second)
"This is ridiculous. They had 15 km to tell us, but no-one did that. The crossing closed just before we got there. They should have said something to us in the race, but not after. It's definitely against the sprit of the race. What can you do? Protest against the UCI? I don't think that it will do anything."
Peter Van Petegem (Davitamon-Lotto, DQ after finishing third)
"I've still proved that I'm not done with yet. Cancellara was the strongest, if not, then we would have gotten back to him. Because of the wind it was a very tough race and when Flecha attacked a few times, the legs started to hurt."
On his disqualification, Van Petegem said, "I haven't put the other riders in danger. OK it's a serious error. In Belgium they do it differently. Here you get disqualified."
Luke Roberts (CSC, DNF)
Luke Roberts was part of the winning team, but his race ended after the Arenberg Forest when he gave his wheel to teammate Allan Johansen, who had punctured. It was the only mechanical problem that CSC had all day.
"For me I was a little disappointed at how I ended up," Roberts told Cyclingnews. "Up to that point it was quite good. We were all working well as a team for Fabian. We had big confidence in him. Right from the start, it was the plan to put him up the front.
"I'd done a lot of work in the first 100 km. There was one dangerous split in the peloton when we had to ride pretty hard to come back. At Arenberg I gave my wheel to Allan Johansen - he had better legs for the finish. It's a decision we had to make. By the time I waited for the cars to come, I was a few groups back. So I stopped after the second feed. There was not much I could do from there.
"I got to the velodrome in time to watch the last 15 km on TV, seeing Fabian riding alone. It was a huge buzz."
Next up for Roberts was a little celebration at the team hotel in Kortrijk: "We'll have a bit of a party together with the team. Next week it's back to business as usual. I'll race in Herne Hill for the Good Friday meet in London, then have another couple of weeks break until Dunkirk in May."
Wilfried Peeters (DS QuickStep)
"It was a silly situation. But it was also a dangerous situation and rules are rules. Ballan also wanted to ride through quickly, but Boonen held him back. Luckily, otherwise Ballan would have ended up under the train."
"I was disappointed because after Wallers I expected to have two more men up front. But I can't take anything away from Cancellara's win."
Dirk Demol (DS Discovery Channel)
"We had bad luck all day, particularly with Hincapie's fork breaking and then the disqualifications. I don't understand it. The places between one and seven were determined. Nothing would have changed."
Painful shoulder for Hincapie; broken collarbone for Steels
George Hincapie's Roubaix ended in disaster with 45 km to go when his aluminium steerer tube broke on the Mons-en-Pevele sector of cobbles. Hincapie had been riding well up until that point, but he couldn't avoid crashing. He fell heavily on his right shoulder and will likely require an operation, according to VRT.
Tom Steels (Davitamon-Lotto) had a spectacular crash after 127 km when he clipped the wheel of Steven de Jongh in front of him. Unfortunately for Steels, he broke his left collarbone.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)