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102nd Paris-Roubaix - CDM
France, April 11, 2004
"Otroligt!" Bäckstedt gets his dream win in Roubaix
Museeuw, Van Petegem lose out to punctures
By Chris Henry in Roubaix
Magnus Bäckstedt earned the crowning achievement in his career so far with a hard-fought victory in Paris-Roubaix, the Queen of the Classics. Bäckstedt entered the Roubaix velodrome in the company of three men, all possible victors in a sprint: Roger Hammond, Fabian Cancellara, and Tristan Hoffman. Bäckstedt and his team knew he would be a contender, but the victory still brought tears to his eyes.
As Bäckstedt's daughter Elinor jumped in his lap, chirping "I'm so proud of you, daddy!" the big Swede began to marvel at his own accomplishment.
"I can't believe I won it," he said simply. "My plan for the race this morning was to keep an eye on Museeuw, Van Petegem, Wesemann, and even on Tom Boonen. While doing that, I made sure to stay out of the wind and out of trouble, and I didn't have one puncture. When it came down to a group of four, I realised I had a chance of a lifetime to win Paris-Roubaix. I didn't hesitate when I saw a gap open up on the inside (in the velodrome). Once I got through they gave me a little gap and that was it."
While second place is perhaps the biggest mixed blessing of them all, Tristan Hoffman found reason to be satisfied with his race. "I've been trying to prove myself for many years now, and I feel like I've been successful doing that with my results," he explained. "There was nothing that could be done about Magnus, but at least that leaves me one more goal to focus on in the next few years."
Meanwhile, it was just one week ago that British national champion Roger Hammond told Cyclingnews that a major classic like the Tour of Flanders was the next big step and he hoped only to continue a steady progression. After earning the third step on the podium in the fabled Roubaix velodrome, Hammond's tune had certainly changed. No doubt he was frustrated not to win, but he has made his mark as a man to watch in the biggest, toughest races in Europe.
"It's incredible," Hammond told Cyclingnews. "To turn into the final corner into the velodrome in the lead group, knowing I was still in with a chance of winning Paris-Roubaix...It was a dream come true. Okay, I messed up the last 200 metres, but I did 260 kilometres correct. If I could change things, I would, but in the heat of the moment you have to make a decision. I made the decision to go when I wanted to, but I just wasn't strong enough and that's all."
How it unfolded
The usual nervous series of breakaways marked the opening of the race, which sped north from Compiègne over a 100 kilometre warm up before the first section of pavé in Troisvilles. Early riders on the attack included Salvatore Commesso and Giosuè Bonomi of Saeco, Ag2r-Prévoyance's Erki Pütsep, Erwin Thijs of Lotto-Domo... but none could create a move that really stuck. It took another round of attacks from the Saeco duo to get the first real gap, taking Guillaume Auger (RAGT Semences-MG Rover), Michael Albasini (Phonak) and Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner) with them. Finally this quintet put some distance on the peloton as it approached the first pavé.
By the time the bikes rattled over the stones for the first time, the leading five had moved some five minutes clear of the field, which was clearly none too worried about the morning break. Steadily over the first few sections, Albasini and Auger dropped off the pace and the break began to separate, as the heavily favoured Quick.Step-Davitamon team began to assume its position at the head of the field. By the first feed zone in Solesmes their lead was down to three minutes, and after 140km of racing there were just two men ahead: Commesso, on the attack all morning, and Geert Van Bondt (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago), who had bridged up to the escape and helped Commesso persist in his effort. Finally after 160 kilometres, Commesso and Van Bondt were reeled in as the peloton powered toward the crucial Arenberg Forest.
Lotto-Domo and Quick.Step assumed their responsibility as favourites to drive much of the pace, but as the field neared the forest it was T-Mobile's lanky veteran Rolf Aldag who attacked alone to enter "the trench" ahead of the rest. Hot on Aldag's heels was Van Petegem's Lotto crew, with Leon Van Bon in prime position, and US Postal Service's George Hincapie showing himself at the head of affairs just behind the defending champion Van Petegem.
The first real picture of who this year's contenders might be emerged through the forest as Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) forced the pace and caught Aldag, bringing Van Petegem's teammate (and second place in the Tour of Flanders) Leif Hoste, Tristan Hoffman Frank Høj and Lars Michaelsen (CSC), Van Bon, Hincapie, Stefano Zanini, Tom Boonen and... Johan Museeuw (Quick.Step). All of the big names of Paris-Roubaix were where they should be as the peloton pounded over the stones of the Arenberg forest, to an enormous cheer from the raucous, often inebriated, and very partisan fans lining the trench. By the end of Arenberg, some 20 riders were clear of a chasing group (including Jaan Kirsipuu and Ludo Dierckxsens) and the race to Roubaix was truly on.
Through pavé sections 13 and 12, Gent-Wevelgem winner Tom Boonen began to pour on the power, forcing a small break and putting the other leaders on notice that Quick.Step was looking to repeat its mid-week dominance. Shortly after, it was Kirsipuu, back up to the leaders, who attacked alone and pushed an enormous gear to gain some 20 seconds on the rest. Through the feed zone and onto more tough cobbles, the Estonian looked good but it was clearly too early for such solo heroics. Hincapie led the chase, with former USPS teammate Boonen just behind, as they drove through the Orchies pavé and kicked up the dust on the relentless push north to Roubaix.
At the exit of section 10 (Auchy-Lez-Orchies), Museeuw himself decided it was time to test the waters. The three-time Roubaix winner forced the pace and got a small gap with Bäckstedt in pursuit of Kirsipuu, but this was not the move to win the race. Seeing that he had at least forced the others to work behind him, Museeuw sat up and let the main group of favourites resume its course. Bäckstedt tested his own legs again, following a counter attack from Van Bon, but the elastic had yet to snap.
It was here that Roger Hammond began to realise his day might just be a big one. He attacked the lead group, along with Museeuw and Hincapie, before repeating the effort after Van Petegem came along for the ride.
"I realised after one of the tough pavé sections that I wasn't yet at 100% [effort], so I attacked over the top of Museeuw," Hammond told Cyclingnews. "I looked in his eyes and saw that he knew I was here. So I attacked again!"
Hammond's double effort helped reduce the numbers in the front group, but once more it would be Quick.Step taking over the front positions. Boonen attacked several times, and managed to make a selection on the Bourghelles pavé, finding only Hincapie and Spain's man for the northern classics, Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo) on his wheel. This was a major move, with Boonen and Hincapie both coming off wins at Gent-Wevelgem and the Three Days of De Panne, respectively. They gave it everything they had, but first Leif Hoste bridged the gap, then the move was brought back.
Thanks largely to accelerations by Museeuw, what would be the winning selection was made after the difficult Carrefour de l'Arbe section of cobbles, as an elite group containing Hincapie, Hammond, Hoffmann, Bäckstedt, and Cancellara emerged ahead. Hincapie disappeared from the group, but the remaining five were clear to push home their slender advantage as the outskirts of Roubaix drew near.
Just when things looked solid, Museeuw found his luck failed in his final attempt to take a fourth Roubaix crown. A rear wheel puncture (and a less than perfect change) dropped him from the leaders definitively. Van Petegem rejoined Museeuw from behind, and though chasing hard and clearly in fine form, Van Petegem, Museeuw, Hincapie and others were now almost certainly out of the running with just 5km to race.
The lead four decided a sprint on the concrete velodrome would seal their fate, and Hammond, Bäckstedt, Cancellara and Hoffman flew into Roubaix to the enormous cheers of the crowd. Inside the velodrome, Museeuw's drama drew gasps of disappointment as the Lion of Flanders was knocked from contention in a race he clearly had the legs to win. Van Petegem and Museeuw forced themselves free of the other chasers, but the move was more symbolic than anything, two great classics champions putting in a final effort in a never say die display of respect for the race.
Into the velodrome, the win was anyone's guess. Hammond and Bäckstedt were both contenders for the sprint, but at the end of 260 kilometres it's a different affair. Perhaps fearing his chances, Cancellara led into the velodrome with Hammond on his wheel. After the big Swiss rider's acceleration, Hammond put in his own effort, but it was big Bäckstedt who churned through on the inside track of the final turn to take Sweden's first ever Roubaix win. Otroligt!
For Johan Museeuw, who finished his last Roubaix (and penultimate race as a professional), the agony of a race-ending puncture could perhaps be smoothed over by the knowledge that at the end of his storied career he remained just as much a threat in the toughest one day race as he did at his peak. Entering the velodrome in the company of last year's winner Van Petegem, Museeuw was greeted with a roaring ovation, and as he crossed the line arm in arm with his friend and rival, Museeuw let everyone know that he would go out as he wanted, as the classics rider of his generation.
Images by Chris Henry/Cyclingnews.com
Images by Chris Henry/Cyclingnews.com
Images by Olympia Photo
Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti
1 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Alessio-Bianchi 6.40.26 (39.11 km/h) 2 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Team CSC 3 Roger Hammond (GBr) MrBookmaker-Palmans 4 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo 5 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 0.17 6 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo 7 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Lotto-Domo 0.29 8 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 9 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 10 Frank Hoj (Den) Team CSC 11 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Lampre 12 Leif Hoste (Bel) Lotto-Domo 13 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Fassa Bortolo 14 Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 15 Daniele Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile Team 0.36 16 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile Team 0.58 17 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole 2.52 18 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJeux.com 19 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) T-Mobile Team 20 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team CSC 21 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Team CSC 2.56 22 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Ag2R Prevoyance 3.50 23 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team CSC 24 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 25 Christophe Mengin (Fra) FDJeux.com 26 Rolf Aldag (Ger) T-Mobile Team 3.54 27 Jan Schaffrath (Ger) T-Mobile Team 28 Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 29 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 6.36 30 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 7.59 31 Robert Hunter (RSA) Rabobank 32 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Lotto-Domo 12.18 33 Servais Knaven (Ned) Quick.Step-Davitamon 12.19 34 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Lotto-Domo 35 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) FDJeux.com 13.19 36 Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Saeco 37 Stefano Casagranda (Ita) Saeco 38 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Lampre 39 Eric Baumann (Ger) T-Mobile Team 40 Murilo Fischer (Bra) Domina Vacanze 41 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank 42 Pedro Horrillo (Spa) Quick.Step-Davitamon 43 Andrea Tafi (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 44 Scott Sunderland (Aus) Alessio-Bianchi 45 Bekim Christensen (Den) Team CSC 46 Jörg Ludewig (Ger) Saeco 47 Thomas Eriksen (Den) Team CSC 48 Andy Flickinger (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 49 Antonio Cruz (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 50 Alessandro Cortinovis (Ita) Lampre 51 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems 52 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Quick.Step-Davitamon 53 Bert Hiemstra (Ned) Chocolade Jacques Wincor-Nixdorf 54 Nicolas Portal (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 55 Nicola Gavazzi (Ita) Saeco 56 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Credit Agricole 57 Grégory Rast (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems 58 Maarten Den Bakker (Ned) Rabobank 59 Kristof Trouve (Bel) MrBookmaker-Palmans 60 Paolo Fornaciari (Ita) Saeco 61 Chris Peers (Bel) Chocolade Jacques Wincor-Nixdorf 62 Allan Johansen (Den) Bankgiroloterij 63 Bart Voskamp (Ned) Chocolade Jacques Wincor-Nixdorf 64 Benoît Joachim (Lux) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 65 Stephan Schreck (Ger) T-Mobile Team 66 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 67 Wim Vansevenant (Bel) Lotto-Domo 13.32 68 Steffen Radochla (Ger) Illes Balears-Banesto 69 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 13.33 70 Dario Pieri (Ita) Saeco 71 Erwin Thijs (Bel) MrBookmaker-Palmans 14.58 72 Michael Rich (Ger) Gerolsteiner 73 Roy Sentjens (Ned) Rabobank 74 Michel Van Haecke (Bel) MrBookmaker-Palmans 75 Alexandre Bazhenov (Rus) Domina Vacanze 76 Jacky Durand (Fra) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 77 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere 20.37 78 Unai Yus (Spa) Brioches La Boulangere 79 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) MrBookmaker-Palmans 28.07 80 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Phonak Hearing Systems 31.03 81 Remco Van Der Ven (Ned) Bankgiroloterij 31.09 82 Andy Cappelle (Bel) Chocolade Jacques Wincor-Nixdorf 83 Stéphane Berges (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 84 Christophe Laurent (Fra) R.A.G.T. Semences-MG Rover 85 Renaud Dion (Fra) R.A.G.T. Semences-MG Rover 86 Johan Verstrepen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 87 David Derepas (Fra) FDJeux.com 88 Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 89 Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 90 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Bankgiroloterij 91 Stijn Devolder (Bel) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 35.10 92 Bobbie Traksel (Ned) Rabobank 43.09 93 Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJeux.com 51.08
1 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile Team 110 pts 2 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 103 3 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Alessio-Bianchi 100 4 Leif Hoste (Bel) Lotto-Domo 84 5 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team 70 6 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Team CSC 70 7 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Lotto-Domo 68 8 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo 58 9 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 53 10 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 51 11 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone 50 12 Roger Hammond (GBr) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans 50 13 Dave Bruylandts (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf 50 14 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 47 15 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 44 16 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Lampre 43 17 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 40 18 Frank Høj (Den) Team CSC 40 19 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo 40 20 Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile Team 37 21 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal Service presented by Berry Flo 36 22 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone 32 23 Rolf Aldag (Ger) T-Mobile Team 28 24 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Fassa Bortolo 27 25 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 21 26 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 20 27 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) T-Mobile Team 16 28 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Lotto-Domo 15 29 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Saeco 14 30 Laurent Brochard (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance 13 31 Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 12 32 Jörg Ludewig (Ger) Saeco 12 33 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) FDJeux.com 12 34 Daniele Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile Team 11 35 Josu Silloniz Aresti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 11 36 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 10 37 Guido Trenti (USA) Fassa Bortolo 9 38 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole 9 39 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJeux.com 8 40 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner 8 41 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Relax-Bodysol 8 42 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 7 43 Roberto Petito (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 7 44 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 6 45 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 6 46 Vladimir Goussev (Rus) Team CSC 6 47 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Team CSC 5 48 Stijn Devolder (Bel) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 5 49 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) AG2r Prévoyance 4 50 Michele Gobbi (Ita) De Nardi 4 51 Inigo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 3 52 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Gerolsteiner 2 53 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 2 54 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros 1