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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

102nd Paris-Roubaix - CDM

France, April 11, 2004

Results    Live report    World Cup standings

"Otroligt!" Bäckstedt gets his dream win in Roubaix

Museeuw, Van Petegem lose out to punctures

By Chris Henry in Roubaix

Magnus Backstedt (Alessio-Bianchi)
Photo ©: Olympia

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."

Peter Van Petegem (Lotto)
Photo ©: Sirotti

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

Salvatore Commesso (Saeco)
Photo ©: Sirotti

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.

Photo ©: Sirotti

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.

Johan Museeuw (Quick.Step-Davitamon)
Photo ©: CN

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!"

Steffen Wesemann (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Sirotti

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.

Magnus Backstedt (Alessio-Bianchi)
Photo ©: Sirotti

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

Luc Claessen/Cyclingnews/www.actiefotos.be

Images by Olympia Photo

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Results - 261 km

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

World Cup standings after round 3

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

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